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A Call to Action from Grand Commander Hunan Arshakian and Grand Chairwoman Gloria Korkoian

We are facing serious challenges as we, who are safe and secure in the United States, witness the blockade of Artsakh. In 1916, the Knights of Vartan was formed to assisted the survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Now 106 years later, our brothers and sisters in Artsakh are in dire straits. Over 120,000 people are in this land blockade without access to the outside world.

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Aparan Sports School Renovation

For young people, team sports participation promotes physical and mental health and wellbeing, builds confidence, involves memory and thinking skills, reduces stress and anxiety, improves concentration and increases IQ.  With this in mind, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan have been involved in many school support projects.

NS Hunan Arshakian from Gomidas Lodge in San Diego was originally from Aparan, Armenia and moved to the US with his family when he was a teenager.  Each year he and his parents visit their hometown in an effort to keep their home “alive”.  In Armenian, there is an expression “Օջախի կրակը վառ պահել” i.e. “keep the home fireplace burning”.

NS Hunan and his mother ND Anahit Antonyan received a request for some much needed assistance in Aparan.   As a result, since 2018 through private funding and the KV/ATDF partnership, Aparan Public School # 2 has been renovated including a major restoration of the kindergarten which has been renamed the Knights of Vartan Kindergarten. The KV Veratarts Hayrenik Group visited the kindergarten in 2019 and the children, wearing t-shirts with the KV logo, danced and sang for the group at a special reception.

Aparan Sports School front wall before and after renovation

Last year the Arshakian family was asked to help with the renovation of a locker room in the Aparan Sports School and the renewal of the school’s exterior wall.  This sports school building in Aparan, Armenia was built in the 1960s and even though in poor condition, it is still used today. The school has over 200 students between the age of 5 and 18 from the city of Aparan and neighboring villages. They have a gymnasium and offer a variety of classes: including soccer, volleyball, basketball, boxing and wrestling.  The classes are organized by dedicated trainers who do their best to overlook the poor condition of the building. The Arshakian family, in the name of Gomidas Lodge, sponsored this urgently needed renovation and with the involvement of the local municipality, it was completed in two months just in time for the September 2021 KV Veratarts Hayrenik Trip.  The group was delighted to visit and see different classes at the school.  Each classroom was busy and crowded with over 30 students who eagerly presented their skills and knowledge.

Interior renovation and students active in classes

“Every year our weightlifting group of boys and girls participate in national competitions and always win 2nd or 3rd places.  We look forward to improving the condition of the school and partnering with the Knights of Vartan for future projects” said the Principal Bagrat Baghdasaryan who had, prior to becoming principal four years ago, worked at the school for approximately 10 years.

Gomidas Lodge is continuing to seek projects to help the people of Aparan.

Photos by Aparan Sports School and Asbed David Medzorian