Aid Kashatagh: Updates and the Future

Aid Kashatagh

On the snowy eve of February 5th the Armenian Community in London had the honour, courtesy of the ACCC UK, of guest speaker Dr. Antranig Kasbarian delivering an extremely informative and insightful presentation on the various projects in the villages of Kashatagh, as well as an educational short film about one village in particular, Getap.

Kashatagh is a narrow strip of land approximately 150km long that ties Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia: Kashatagh is strategically very important for ensuring that Karabakh remains part of Armenia. It can be described as a buffer zone making it harder for Azerbaijani forces to take back lands which they believe to be theirs.

The evening’s programme began with a brief introduction followed by the short film that was prepared by the Beshirian family on their summer holiday, when they themselves visited the villages of Berdzor and Getap in Kashatagh. Berdzor, formally known as Lachin, is the capital of Kashatagh.

Getap is 50km – a 2 hour drive – away from Berdzor, and a 3 hour drive away from Stepanakert, the capital of Karabakh. The village was established in 1995 by settlers who lost their homes in the war zones, the earthquake zone and, finally, those who came from Armenia when Karabakh was liberated. Getap, found on the banks of the river Hakari, has been adopted by British Armenians to help make improvements, and today the number of families there has risen from 27 to 34.

Dr. Kasbarian spoke about many projects that have taken place from 2005 within Kashatagh. Southern Kashatagh is involved in wheat production: future projects involve the production of bread on a large scale – enough to serve the whole of Kashatagh and even some of the secondary cities of Armenia. In comparison, northern Kashatagh is more mountainous, which is good for raising cattle. That region also has wonderful touristic features such as hot springs.

Donations have come from many Armenian associations including The Armenian Relief Society Great Britain, Armenian National Committee UK, Armenian Medical Association UK, Hamazkayin UK, Homenetmen London, Friends of Armenia, Land and Culture as well as the many kind contributions from members of the community.

In 2009 aims such as the following were set: to raise £50,000; renovate all the houses in Getap village, to improve the basic necessities and quality of life in Kashatagh, and to publicise business opportunities. By January 2012 already £41,772 had been raised and, with help from the Tufenkian Foundation, 11 houses and a school have been constructed/renovated, and business ventures have started to take place. Examples include investment in pomegranate orchards and wheat cultivation, to name a few. Proposed projects for 2012 involve improving drinking water facilities and irrigation as well as continuing the renovation of further houses.

Speeches concluded with final words of encouragement and praise from the ambassador of Armenia, Karine Kazinian, to all those involved. A cocktail reception followed, where it was announced that the Armenian Relief Society of Great Britain contributed a further £500 to the cause. Congratulations to the Chairman of the British-Armenian Kashatagh Campaign, Viken Haladjian, and the rest of the Aid Kashatagh committee in organising a successful event, and may the next update lecture bring more great news.

— Arda Haladjian

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