That’s how we live
We are living in the 20th century
From left to right:
Haghtik Manukyan 01.10.1945 (a grandfather)
Arthur Manukyan 25.07.2004 (a child)
Manya Manukyan 16.08.1954 (a grandmother)
Anna Nazaryan 28.12.1981 (a mother)
Aram Manukyan 06.11.2009 (a child)
Hovhannes Manukyan 09.04.2003 (a child)
At request of Tigran Khudoyan-the head of Shatin village of Vayots Dzor region we have visited / the village in order to get familiar with villagers, their living conditions and their way of living. Despite the fact that the state of the village is described as pretty favorable in the social media, this information is incomplete and sometimes doesn’t reflect the actual reality. The real picture is horrifying. Poverty is the master of the village and seems to be unwilling to leave. Shatin village situated on a distance of 120 km away from Yerevan has about 2100 inhabitants. The village is not supplied with gas, people are heating their homes with the help of makeshift stove, using wood or manure. People are engaged in animal husbandry, beekeeping, gardening, particularly winegrowing. They have one school with 230 pupils, there is a free preschool, dancing and sport groups, but they are operating only in spring and summer. In a village among the hills people live in earthen houses. It’s not so very serious: landslide danger during rains and snowmelt becomes another challenge, not to speak of wolves and beasts.
People, despite their miserable conditions, are cordial.
This is Manoukians family. Their house was built in 1959 and up to now no construction works have been done. This house situated in the rocky place at the bottom of a mountain is considered unfit. Аt every moment it can be destroyed by landslide. They have no garden, no yard, no bathroom. As for a toilet /so to call it/ it is outdoors, for reaching which one should have a long walk. In winter it is impossible to bathe in the place meant for the bathroom: the flaws are so great that the bright light from outside is clearly visible through the damp walls of the holes. In winter, having the use of the bathroom is something like a real heroism- uninvited guests: bears, coming down to the village … children are ought to ease themselves in a bucket, elderly people sustain somehow till the dawn.
Vegetation has been already growing on the dark and humid walls of the house; the smell of damp is everywhere.
Children have no place of their own; they have to do lessons in turns. There is a place only for one person in the sitting-room. No … this is not a sad tale about unhappy people, this is a reality we were shocked by. And in this house live children who are constantly thinking, what if the house collapses, what if the wall falls while leaning at, and if by inadvertent touching of the detached electric cable the light in the living room goes out/ the rest of the rooms have no electric light/. We look up and see the rotten timbers of the ceiling, we enter the so called bedroom- the beds are arranged close to each other, and there is no foot space between them. There is a table, two chairs and a worn-out couch, one leg of which is replaced by a stack of books in the meager living room. The so-called kitchen is outside. There is no glass on the windows. Frames covered with polyethylene film do not provide warmth, the wind often tears them off and furiously plays with patience and nerves and misery of people. They somehow survive in summer, but in winter … the pipes freeze, water becomes unavailable as well. And people live in such conditions, raising three under age children. In one of the corners of the room we noticed an aquarium with a few fish. The children cherished it as a relic… the memory of their father: on the 4th of October, 2016 their 42-year-old father was killed in a car accident, leaving the family without a breadwinner. He was the only working member of the family, he was engaged in fishing and the family was existing on a salary received from its sale, he was gathering his neighbors’ nuts, pruned the trees to earn another 1000 drams. They say Nairi helps everybody. If there appeared a snake in one of the houses in the village, they called out Nairi for help, with an amazing agileness he managed to hunt the snakes without harm. It was very hard to speak with Nairi’s 33 years old young wife Anna. She was crying endlessly. She could no way imagine her life without her husband since she couldn’t work to keep her children, and if the house collapses, they will find themselves in the street… Grandfather Haghtik, born in 1945 and grandmother Manya, born in 1954 live with Anna. They need her help. The grandmother has squirmed because of long years’ burden; grandfather lost his leg during the war and is hardy walking with prosthesis. A stick in place of a leg, a piece of iron in place of a knee, which he is manually bending, here and there, for stretching his leg. He showed only a small part of his leg, he said it’s a shame to show the rest of it… It is a wonder that Osteomyelitis hasn’t developed until now. Maybe the old man’s will is so strong that putting aside his desire to live, he holds it his duty to help his son’s family who had passed away untimely. Children go to school: one of them is the first-form schoolboy, the other- the seventh-form. There is a difference between the age of children- Hovhannes and Arthur but they are studying in the same form. It was their father’s will; they go to school and return home together. Their house is quite far from the school.
While talking to the boys we realized how strong ambitions the boys had, but the limited resources of the village do not let them dream courageously. The living conditions prevent to do it as well. They are self-contained and are unwilling to engage in conversation with people. Each of the boys has his own dreams. The eldest son wants to become a builder and renovate their home, the middle one wants to become a car mechanic.
Aram wants to become a veterinary in future. The family survives on the sum of 34 000 drams of food aid and grandpa’s pension of 40 000 drams. In order not to remain hungry, grandfather made a bread-making device, where they bake Armenian lavash. This is grandmother’s duty. The village shops don’t allow this family to borrow products any more. Often the children go to bed with an empty belly. After their father’s death debts have been accumulated and Anna … This young woman seems to have brought down in herself the hope of being happy, of feeling like a female, and she is existing for raising her family, for helping her husband’s parents. Thus they would live..
We parted from Manukyans family with heart-heaviness. We have a help program for this family which is abandoned to its fate and a fate of nature. We are willing to build or buy a new house for them. These children should see colors in their childhood, they will have to protect our borders in future, they will themselves have children.
In this distant Shatin village the houses cost about 7000-10 000 dollars (according to the mayor, the final prices have not been inquired yet).
Kind people, let us together uphold this family that found itself in a severe situation, the only way out of which would be for your generosity. Let the hope awake under this roof, let the lost faith for the future make a comeback, and let the smile be back to the wistful faces of these people. Do not turn a deaf ear to the fate of this family. Do help them!
Let the Lord bless all kind hearted people!