On Feb. 8, the residents of Tsovategh, a village in Artsakh’s Martuni region, celebrated the opening of their new community center. The building, which includes a town hall and medical clinic (buzhket), was renovated thanks to a partnership between the Armenian Medical Fund (United States), the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) of Switzerland, and the Tufenkian Foundation.
The opening of the center was attended by the village mayor Samvel Abrahamyan, chief physician of the Martuni Regional Hospital Dr. Robert Baghdasaryan, Armenian American Medical Association (AAMA) representative Dr. Anush Sahakian, mayors and representatives from neighboring villages, as well as representatives of the Tufenkian Foundation’s Stepanakert and Yerevan offices.
“The center is home to the Tsovategh town hall, the village’s community center, as well as the buzhket (clinic) since the early nineties. The building needed substantial repairs and renovations to meet the needs of our citizens,” explained Mayor Abrahamyan. Buzhkets, or community medical clinics, are often the only places that villagers across Artsakh have access to immediate medical care. “We are thankful for the support of our diasporan compatriots for their generosity and willingness to help the people here,” he added. The renovated clinic was also outfitted with new equipment and other necessities thanks to the partnership.
The residents of Tsovategh and its surrounding villages came under heavy bombardment during the 44-day war against Azerbaijan in 2020. Early in 2021, thousands of families who had fled the region during the intense battles returned to their homes, many of which had sustained substantial damage. Many of these villages are now only a few kilometers from the Azerbaijani border.
Last year, following comprehensive consultations with the Artsakh authorities, the Tufenkian Foundation assembled an integrated plan composed of complementary initiatives that contribute to meet the educational, health, economic and other needs of several villages in the Martuni region, including Tsovategh and the adjacent villages of Kherkhan and Herher. Various aspects of the plan also include the nearby villages of Sos and Machkalashen. The Foundation partnered with the Los Angeles-based JHM Foundation (John and Hasmik Mgrdichian Foundation) last year, to construct a similar center in nearby Herher village.
“About a year ago, we visited Tsovategh—this storied village—to pass out desperately needed food assistance packages. Today, we are happy to see that the village and its people are able to support themselves and live and work on their land,” said Tufenkian Foundation director Greg Bedian. In early 2021, the Foundation distributed packages, which included flour, rice, buckwheat, pasta, oil, and other staples, to more than 400 families across Martuni’s various villages.
“We will continue to invest in these often-overlooked villages, and in other parts of Artsakh, by rebuilding and renovating homes, clinics, and schools; by implementing educational programs; and by carrying out targeted health and economic development programs. This is how we can ensure a vibrant future for generations of Armenians in Artsakh,” Bedian commented.
As part of its 2022 development program, the Tufenkian Foundation will work in partnership with the Boston-based AAMA on a program to strengthen primary health care in Artsakh. Addressing guests and dignitaries at the Feb. 8 opening, Dr. Sahakian explained that the program will start its work in the villages of Martuni. “Our program will bring highly qualified physicians from the diaspora to provide practical training and continuing medical education to the local medical staff, while also providing care to patients in the region on a continuous basis,” Dr. Sahakian said.