Fifty-year-old Marine Elbakyan lives in Gyumri with her son, daughter-in-law, and infant grandchild. Mrs. Marine lost her home in the devastating 1988 Spitak earthquake. An accountant by training, she once worked for the local municipality. Currently she’s unemployed. Her son, Ashot, is 26. A technical-college graduate, he’s a computer operator who spends several months a year in Russia, where he goes for seasonal work. Ashot’s wife, Susanna, 22, is trained as a hairstylist. She, too, is unemployed at the moment. Ashot and Susanna’s daughter, Marine, is two years old. For long years, the family lived in a tiny, squalid shack that lacked even the most basic of amenities and human comforts.
The Elbakyans became the second family in Gyumri to be gifted with an apartment by Mr. and Mrs. Megerdich and Ani Megerdichian of Canada. The couple had visited Gyumri in the spring of 2017, when they were also hosted by Mrs. Marine at her modest hut. That very day, the Megerdichians had decided to make sure that the Elbakyans would get to celebrate the New Year in a new home. Megerdich Megerdichian is the chairman of the Hayastan Foundation Toronto. Under his leadership, Toronto’s Armenian community continues to sponsor numerous development projects in Armenia. Megerdich and Ani Megerdichian are major donors themselves, with the projects they’ve personally sponsored including the provision of apartments for the Elbakyans and another homeless family.
“Mrs. Marine and her family were ecstatic as they were taken to their new home — a renovated, fully furnished three-bedroom apartment featuring a complement of modern amenities as well as appliances,” said Ara Vardanyan, the executive director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. “Moving into a new apartment, after decades of languishing in inhuman conditions, has signaled the start of a new chapter for the family, inspiring them to feel renewed hope and make fresh plans for the future.”