Gyumri Nursing House Residents /
Emma is a woman of 55, but she looks a lot older: she has suffered much in
her life. Emma was born with congenital deficiencies that could not be
treated properly. Her parents did their best and took her to many doctors.
All the attempts of the doctors unfortunately did not yield much: Emma
remained handicapped. She still remembers those painful of treatment,
hospitals and her parentsí grief. In many Armenian families there is a
stigma with handicapped children and especially in the Soviet days you
wouldnít see handicapped in the streets or other public places. In a way,
they didnít exist and each family was suffering in their own way, dealing
with their children to the best of their capacity and means. Some were
sent to boarding schools where children were studying and living in the
same facilities. But some, like Emma, stayed home and their opportunities
for proper education was limited. Emma however, was lucky because her
parents spent a lot of time with her, teaching her to read, write and
develop very basic skills.
The first 28 years of her life Emma lived with her parents. After their
death in 1975 her two sisters took her to Kharberd, an old peopleís home
with mental problems. Her two sisters were married and could not take care
of her. Emma does not want to recall the years she spent in Kharberd, she
wants to delete those memories from her head. She, however found some
power to stay alive: more, she was reading a lot and that way keeping her
mind occupied with what she reads, rather than what she saw every day.
In April 1988 she was brought to Gyumri. One of Emmaís sisters lives in
Yerevan and the second one is in Russia. Her sister from Yerevan seldom
comes to see her. She hasnít heard from the one in Russia for a long time
now. She still likes reading but now she has some problems with her eyes.
One could see a lot of sorrow and sadness in Emmaís eyes: she is sorry
that she was ever born.
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