Lucine Nahabedian, Manchester, UK
"In August 2007 I joined over 50 volunteers for a trip of a lifetime to Shushi and Yeghvart. During our first weekend we visited a small village called Gogaran, situated north of Spitak, where there was an official opening for the village church that LCO had recently completed renovating.
Our journey to Shushi took over 12 hours and we were all relieved when we reached our destination, which was going to be our home for the next four weeks. It was incredible that there were over 40 volunteers like myself on this site, who had come from countries such as France, Armenia, Iran, Russia, America, Lebanon, Syria and the UK, all with the same intention of volunteering their time and labour to work on the restoration of Shushi Hospital.
The hospital was in poor condition and the gardens surrounding it had long been neglected. We spent the first few days ripping out plaster and wood from walls and whilst doing this, were we able to truly appreciate the difficulty of accessing the hospital and getting adequate healthcare, as only one ward was open and only one ambulance was able to respond to emergencies. All this inspired us to work even harder to provide a hospital to treat those in the nearby villages of Shushi.
"After a month in the rural village of Azad, we hoped that we had left it a better place for the village children. We spent four weeks scrapping and knocking out the loose and crumbling plaster on the walls to have them refinished. We removed the windows and sanded them, painted them, and put in double panes of glass to refinish them. This was not only to improve the look of the school but to also make it a warmer place during the cold winter. Even though we were not professional contractors, we made a good start on the progress of the renovation of the school, which LCO continued in the ensuing years.
I feel that we made a big impact on the village. The local people were so grateful to have us come all the way from America and other countries to help participate in the renovation of their school. I knew that our hard graft would benefit the children of the school to have a school with newly plastered and painted walls, to create an environment that is more conducive to learning. The refinished windows will help keep out the freezing cold winter winds so they can be warm and safe to study in a very harsh environment. We were ambassadors to the village and just the fact that we were there made such a difference in their lives. I thank God to have the opportunity to have been able to give something to them."