Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall
March 2023

This time, our program has taken on a more social focus rather than an educational one.
Our organization’s council decided to help families in border villages. There were disabled military persons, missing soldiers, and young people who died during the 44-day war of 2020 against Azerbaijan.

For this mission we chose the villages of Her-Her and Karmrashen in the Vayots-Dzor region of Armenia, which majority of population had to leave their homes as the most were almost entirely destroyed. It is almost impossible to imagine villages in such conditions in the 21st century.

The journey was quite lengthy, almost three hours each way. Upon reaching the village of Her-Her, we encountered impassable roads, requiring us to abandon our vehicles and continue on foot.

Eventually, we reached the home of the Hambardzum Hambardzumyan family.
The family members have not received any communication from their son for over two years. He is the father of three children, with the youngest being born after the war and having never seen his father. The eldest son has the most vivid memories of his father, and his mother mentions that he bears a striking resemblance to him. Despite the challenges, all three children, along with their mother and grandmother, hold onto the belief that one day their father will return and warmly embrace them with all his heart.

For the Hambardzumyan family, we brought food, clothes, and toys for the children, and they received these provisions with profound gratitude. We were touched by their kindness and resilience in such a difficult situation.

Notably, Hambardzumyan’s mother chose not to speak in front of the camera, explaining that almost everyone in their community has known them for two years, and they are not the only family who lost a loved one in the conflict. However, she agreed to share their story with us privately. She recounted the difficulties they face in their daily lives without her son and how the family struggled to carry on without knowing what had happened to him.

We listened attentively, offered our support, and pledged to continue assisting them in any way we can. Departing from the Hambardzumyan family, our hearts weighed heavy, and we fervently prayed for the day when their beloved son would be found safe and sound.

The next village was Karmrashen, where living conditions were indescribably worse compared to the village of Her Her.

However, it is interesting to note that Karmrashen was once an “international” village, where people from various republics of the former Soviet Union lived side by side and collaborated in building the “Arpa-Sevan” tunnel. Regrettably, only the now perfectly demolished two-story houses, originally constructed for foreign workers, bear witness to the village’s past cosmopolitan life.

Over the years, the village has slowly emptied of its population, leaving only a few young men. When we asked them why they weren’t getting married, they replied, “if you find a young girl who wants to come and live in our village –let us know, we will marry with pleasure”.

Indeed, we did not encounter any young girls in the village. The only remaining inhabitants are the elderly parents of these young men, who steadfastly refuse to abandon their homes, not wanting to leave their parents all alone.

The village school has only four students, among them a 14-year-old girl who harbors dreams of leaving her home and village to pursue education in a better school. We met her family, who were in a state of complete desperation. They have a four-year-old brother who was playing with his cat in worse conditions. To assist them in their difficult situation, we brought them food.

In this village, only herbs grow at the foot of the mountains as the fields are not irrigated, and the inhabitants rely solely on nature and their faith in God.
To support a family of disabled veterans, the Arustamyan family, we purchased five sheep along with their lambs.

Our primary objective was to provide the younger members of the family with the opportunity to stay in their home village and secure employment, thus avoiding the necessity of leaving for better prospects elsewhere. As part of our social program, we entered into a two-year contract with the Arustamyan family, upholding our longstanding commitment to the community.
According to the terms of the contract, after one year, when the sheep would have new lambs, the family is obliged to pass on three lambs and one sheep to another family in need in Karmrashen. This initiative aims to provide another family with the means to sustain themselves within their own village. The process is set to be repeated during the second year, creating a sustainable cycle of support within the community.

Honestly, the day was quite disheartening, but witnessing the bright and hopeful eyes of the young people reminded us that not everything is lost. Life goes on…

It’s also heartening to see how our project fosters solidarity and mutual aid among families in the village. We believe that our long-term commitment to the disabled veteran family is a valuable initiative, providing them with a livelihood while simultaneously assisting other families in need within the community.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to donors SONA BEDROSSIAN & WILLIAM SYMS, ARMINE MESSERKHANIAN, and YEN CHING LIU for affording us the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of these families and bring a little happiness to them.

Moreover, we are hopeful and optimistic that our work will inspire others to offer their support. Together, we can continue our efforts to aid those in need and collaborate in building stronger and more united border communities in Armenia.

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