By Mitch Kehetian

DETROIT – A project to benefit school children of Nor Keghi in Armenia was launched into motion just days after four years of spirited community work to fund school classroom renovations was achieved this past December by the Nor Keghi Association, an organization of Detroit Armenians who trace their DNA roots to old Keghi province in Turkish occupied Western Armenia.

The project’s successful funding goal was topped at Kef Time Keghi III as more than 300 Armenians dined on the legendary staple Pagharch grain meal Keghetzis in the ancestral homeland survived on during the freezing winter months that swept through the mountainous Keghi region.

An elated Richard Norsigian, President of the Nor Keghi Association, said “We topped our fund-raising goal because the Keghetzi community and friends from all four Metro Detroit Armenian Churches as well as compatriots from throughout the United States joined our effort,” adding “the Association’s Board remained dedicated to achieve success – and we did.”

The attending clergy from the four Churches opened the evening program with a prayer of blessing for the project’s success.

The initial project was to renovate the Multipurpose Room at the Arakelyan Kindergarten in Nor Keghi, Armenia, for use by the students as well as by the parents and community for various activities. The renovation also includes the immediate order of new auditorium type chairs, audiovisual equipment, and a piano. The renovated Multipurpose Room will serve the needs of the current 30 students and the 30 additional kindergarten age children now waiting for enrollment.

Norsigian visited Nor Keghi last fall to confer with local and state officials on the needs for the school improvements. He said other improvements in the project also include hallways, doors, and stairwell repairs.

In addition, the Nor Keghi Association’s funded project will be monitored until its completion by the highly respected Paros Foundation, which is headquartered in Berkeley, California, and maintains field offices in Armenia.

Norsigian also praised local and state officials in Armenia for welcoming the support of the project by “Armenians with a DNA link to historic Keghi and now embracing Nor Keghi.” The naming of Nor Keghi formally known as Pazmavan was proclaimed on Feb. 12, 1962.

As Kef Time Keghi III was winding down after an evening of singing and dancing, the 28 Detroit Armenian musicians who had donated their services and had been taking turns to provide music throughout the night at St. John Armenian Church Cultural Hall all took to the stage together to put on a musical show that rocked the hall as throngs of young celebrants cheered while taking pictures with their cell phones.

In saluting the musicians who dedicated their participation, Norsigian said “The closing with all the musicians on stage and the cheering crowd easily topped any Super Bowl half time show. Abreek Detroit musicians. We thank you. The children of Nor Keghi thank you.”

A review meeting to determine the Nor Keghi Association’s future role in Armenia will be held at a later date by its Board.

Whatever that course of direction, the words of the legendary William Saroyan rang loud and clear at Kef Time Keghi III. In a salute to Armenians for their survival after the Genocide, Saroyan etched an everlasting tribute in which he said … “Go ahead, burn their homes and churches, send them into the hot burning desert to die but whenever two of them meet again see if they won’t pray and sing again.”

They did at Kef Time Keghi III.

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