The Papazyans: “I’m weeping that I’ve given birth to them . . .”
By Suren Musayelyan
Unlike the majority of his fellow students at Vardashen’s boarding school for truants, Tigran Papazyan has both parents and a place to stay. But the 15-year-old chooses to stay at school overnight. He doesn’t want to embarrass his family, living in a cramped hostel nearby.
Tigran’s seven-member family has huddled together in the hostel for the last 10 years. The total area of their two rooms hardly makes 15 square meters. It lacks almost all elementary amenities, such as running water, toilet, bathroom.
Winters are especially difficult for the Papazyans who have no warm beddings and clothes. But this winter has turned to be even worse: the family is deprived of electricity because of their debt. The family with five children has to rely only on a short supply of fuel, and both parents and children have at least another two months of cold weather to survive.
Tigran is the elder of the five children in the family. His teachers praise him, saying he is a clever boy. He looks younger than his peers.
The teenager suffers from bronchial asthma and was hospitalized twice in the last two years.
The school’s nurse Nora Galstyan says Tigran feels better in the school, and that’s why very often he stays for the night, although unlike other children, he has a place to go.
“He suffers from asthma and the conditions at his home are bad. And here they are few in the bedrooms. He breathes more freely,” she explains.
The Papazyans once tried to set up a new life in Horadiz, a former Azerbaijani region now controlled by Karabakh troops. However, the life in Horadiz proved to be not so easy for a large family from the Armenian capital and after spending some time there without luck they had to return to Yerevan, back to their home.
The hostel life
The family had no financial means to transport from Horadiz most of their belongings and found themselves without warm blankets and other essentials.
Tigran’s mother Gayane says she is depressed that she can do nothing to make the life of her children better.
Gayane, 38, had lost her two babies to these severe conditions. Her 18-month-old boy died six years ago because the parents had no money to fight an infection the infant had developed. And a deadly incident took the life of her 3-year-old daughter who fell into a tank of boiling water.
Gayane says she is very concerned about the future of her remaining five children. When she is asked why she gave birth to so many children in such severe conditions she explains that she couldn’t agree to abortions for religious reasons.Want to Help? HyeSanta would like to buy warm beddings and repay their electricity debt. Estimated cost: $400. Click here.
“At times, when my kids are asleep, I am weeping that I’ve given birth to them and sinned against them, because I cannot look after them properly,” she says.
Gayane, who is an accountant by profession, has not worked for nearly as long as they have been without a home, as she barely has time to look after her small children. She receives a benefit for her three children – 15-year-old Tigran, 9-year-old Edgar and 18-month-old Arsen – a total of around 12,000 drams (some $24). However, her 3.5-year-old twins, Hasmik and Hayk, have no chance to get benefits.
The kids have no birth certificates, because the parents cannot allocate money from their scanty family budget for arranging the documents. In Armenia benefits are given only by birth certificates.
Teachers say he is a clever boy
Gayane says they couldn’t pay for electricity in time and that’s why their debt had reached more than 40,000 drams ($80). And because of that, for the last six months they have to spend their evenings under the candlelight. “We have a heater, but we cannot afford to buy fuel,” she says.
The family’s only breadwinner, 38-year-old Artur, is a driver. He says that he barely earns money enough for bread. Artur rents a car and does shifts for one of the taxi services of Yerevan. He makes a few thousand drams every shift, but spends a significant amount of his income to pay for the car rental.
Artur says that during the war he fought on the border. He says that he was shell-shocked three times and after returning from war he developed a spinal curvature and chronic bronchitis. “I work with great effort, but what can I do? If I don’t work, then we will not be able to live at all,” says Artur.
“Disposable” diapers? Not here . . .
Tigran had dreamed of becoming a military man all his life, to defend his homeland like his father. However, he has to abandon this thought for health reasons. Now he is learning a shoe-maker’s trade at a vocational training workshop operating in the school.
The head of the course, Asatur Khodikyan describes Tigran as a good pupil. “Simply he misses a lot, and it is not through his fault. He is a clever boy,” he says. “Often he is taken ill. Sometimes he looks after his elder brothers and sister when his mother goes to town. I know the Papazyans. They are a hard-working family.”
The Papazyans are currently applying to the “Huysi Avan” (“District of Hope”) charity program, hoping to get a home of their own one day.