The Araqelyan family (Photo: Tufenkian Foundation)
STEPANAKERT, Artsakh—In April 2016, the people of Artsakh suffered unprecedented post-ceasefire violence when Azerbaijan launched unprovoked assaults along its eastern border. This escalation has since been known as the “April War” or “Four-Day War.”
Mher Araqelyan, a 35-year-old father of one, was one of the soldiers mobilized to protect Artsakh during the war. He fought and was seriously wounded at a frontline base near Jibrayil. Since then, he has been facing serious health difficulties and is without a home.
To support Mher Araqelyan, the Tufenkian Foundation has launched a crowdfunding campaign to purchase a house for the family in their native Karmir Shuka—a small village in one of Artsakh’s border regions. With donations from 66 individuals—predominantly Diasporan Armenians—the campaign raised over $10,000 in 10 days and has $5,000 to go still. The Tufenkian Foundation has itself pledged $10,000 to the campaign. The total cost of the new home is $25,000.
The initiative to provide housing support to wounded soldiers of Artsakh was launched by the Tufenkian Foundation in April 2016, in response to the April War. Since then, houses have been built, reconstructed, or purchased for families of eight soldiers, and the construction of the 9th soldier’s house is now underway.
When selecting beneficiaries, the Tufenkian Foundation gives priority to families in difficult socioeconomic conditions. All eight houses provided to date have been given to wounded soldiers who are unable to work and cannot build, renovate, or purchase homes due to battle injuries and health difficulties. Mher Araqelyan is in a similar situation. Because of a deep thigh wound, he is prohibited from doing any physical work and unable to stand for extended periods, and he is set to undergo another difficult surgery soon.
As Mher has been unable to work since his injury, the family relies primarily on his disability pension and the support of Mher’s and his wife’s parents. Without a house of their own, the family spends most of their small income on rent.
Mher and his wife will soon become parents for the second time. As they prepare to welcome their second child, their dream is to have a home they can call their own.
Those who wish can contribute to this cause by making a small gift here and by sharing Mher’s story.
The Tufenkian Foundation was launched in 1999 by entrepreneur James Tufenkian with the mission to empower the initiatives of local citizens, support the most vulnerable strata of society, promote environmental protection and awareness, and advance social justice in Armenia. Since 2003, the Foundation has broadened its scope to embattled Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh), where it promotes resettlement and development projects in the vulnerable border zones of the region.