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August 26, 2002 Gyumri Hayastani and her Granddaughter

I met a lady named Hayastani. The picture is of Hayastani in front of her domik. Notice she has grown a fruit tree and has a prolific garden for food. Armenians call their country Hayastan. So, her name is the equivalent to a name "Woman of America", only for Armenia. Petros Malakyan, former director of ARDA, nick names her "mother Armenia". He has known her 10 years and says she has never asked him for anything except work. She tended flowers in the yard of the kindergarten Petros's organization sponsors the early part of this summer. He took me to her home. It is called a domik. They are shacks thrown up for people to survive in the winter of the earthquake. It gets to minus 20 degrees in Gyumri during the winter. Her domik is made of cast off tin, no insulation. The earthquake was 14 years ago and thousands of people are still living in various forms of domiks. Her husband and her daughters husband were killed in the earthquake, as I understand it. So they have no one to support them or promote their opportunities for better housing.

This is a picture of Hayisstani's front door. The numbers on the tin are numbers various government agencies and charitable organizations have painted there for their programs. But she and her remaining family members are still here in the domik.

Petros met Hayastani about 10 years ago. He was standing outside in the cold waiting to meet with one of her neighbors. Hayastani saw him and invited him into her domik to warm up with coffee. He went in and was appalled. There was really no furniture in the house except a table, chairs and a cabinet in the front room and one single bed in the bed room. After the coffee he thought a lot about this situation and was praying about it. Within three days a friend who worked in the American Embassy told him some people had left and did not take their furniture. Petros went to look at the furniture and it was beautiful. He was told that if he could take it out he could have it for the people in Gyumri. So he loaded it in a truck. Some friends looked at it and said, that furniture is like new, it is better than your furniture Petros, you are not going to let it go to a domik family are you. Petros dais, I was praying about it, this came, I best give it. The furniture is still beautiful, well taken care of. There is a nice couch, several beds, two large dressers, and two cabinets. They are about hidden behind the group in the inside picture.

Hayastani wants her granddaughter (on the far right) to be able to go to college again this year. So she has been cutting costs by inviting girls from rural areas to live with her. Then more people can share the costs. Hayastani, her daughter (on the far left) and her grand daughter share their home with three other college girls. But still they do not have enough money to afford higher education.

We need $20 per month for each of the four girls so they can go to college this year. $20 per month will allow them to afford tuition, clothing and books for the school year. Petros found a donor who bought them 3 cu. meters of firewood for the winter and between Hayastani, her daughter, the garden, and social programs they will have food. Tuition is about $200 which leaves $40 for books and clothing. A slim budget, but they really want to go to school.You can see that even in their poverty they are clean and well dressed. The grand daughter hopes to be in her second year of college in a couple of weeks. The other girls are still with their families in rural areas working until school starts. Hayastani's domik has 2 rooms, you see one. The other is all beds which have to be stacked in order for there to be any room on the floor for walking.

The last picture is of Hayastani's daughter, Hrahat, Petros, and Hayastani's grand daughter. Hrahat and Petros are with the Armenia Reconstruction and Development Agency.



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