“We were the Carlsons of Gyumri,” Mrs. Heriknaz jokes. She smiles as she welcomes us to her home, which scarcely resembles one. Along with her two children and bed-ridden mother, Mrs. Heriknaz lives in the attic of a decrepit building. For more than 18 years, they’ve spent their lives essentially under the open sky, with little protection against the elements. “We’ve actually wished we lived in a domik, which would be a castle in comparison,” says the young mother, who as yet doesn’t know that only minutes separate her from the realization of her dream.
The photographer and video operator document life in the attic. It’s all very familiar to Mrs. Heriknaz: representatives of numerous organizations have visited here in the past and given the family hope that its housing woes would soon end, only never to be heard from again. “But when we received a call from Armenia Fund, I knew we would be provided with a new home, sooner or later,” Mrs. Heriknaz says with tears in her eyes. “Every time I see on television how Armenia Fund has saved yet another family from a domik, I cry with them, sharing their happiness.”
Just as she finishes saying this, a tall man appears at the low door, accompanied by Mrs. Heriknaz’s son. The visitor is Gilbert Momdjian, chairman of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s German affiliate, who has been familiar with the plight of the Markosyan family for some time now, unbeknownst to Mrs. Heriknaz. The representatives of the Fund’s German affiliate don’t delay the long-awaited moment. With no further ado, they hand over the keys of a new apartment to Mrs. Heriknaz’s school-aged children. Subsequently everyone heads for the Markosyans’ new home — a renovated and furnished apartment, complete with modern amenities, including appliances.
Lyuda wants to become a translator. Sergey wants to be a chef. The first moments of the Markosyans’ new life is of course also enjoyed by the family’s eldest member, who leaves her bed with the help of her loved ones. Mrs. Heriknaz’s mother, who for years has suffered from severe leg pain as a result of living in their unheated attic, forgets her aches once she steps foot in their new apartment, and rushes to the kitchen to experience the joy of performing a grandmother’s duties.
After bidding the Markosyans farewell, Gilbert Momdjian and his colleagues visited another family in Gyumri. Nayra Martirosyan, a single mother, and her three children welcomed the guests to their ramshackle hut. Providing the Martirosyans with housing assistance is being treated by Armenia Fund as an urgent priority. To date, Armenia Fund has donated apartments to seven families in Gyumri with the financial support of German-Armenians. In total, the Fund has provided apartments to 36 Gyumri families in the past two years.