Varand Bedrosian

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Excerpt from 11/1/2005 issue of AGBU Magazine article:
FROM THERE TO HERE: COMING “HOME” TO YEREVAN
by Suren Musayelyan

No matter what happens . . .

Varand Bedrosian says his wife Sosi is luckier, as she was granted Armenian citizenship sooner than he. Now he is counting days before it is his turn to be able to hold an Armenian passport.

The Bedrosians, he is 46 and she, 43, moved from war-torn Iraq in December 2003 and applied for citizenship in July 2004.

Varand, whose father was born in Iraq and grandfather was a deportee from Mush (now in Turkey), says they had always dreamed of living in Armenia, but didn’t have a chance until Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown.

During the last 12 years of his life in Iraq, Varand, who is a geologist, was making his living as a jewel-setter. But since he had previously worked for a government agency, he was not allowed to leave the country.

“We have relatives in the U.S., Holland and elsewhere, but we decided to repatriate as soon as the opportunity arose,” says Varand. “I always wanted my children to live in their homeland.”

When he came to Armenia with his wife and two daughters—19-year-old Ayg and 7-year-old Arpi—he didn’t have many job offers. He first worked briefly as an agent for a commercial distribution company, then wanted to set up his own jewel-setting business, but didn’t have enough capital and “vigor” to compete with younger jewelers in Armenia. Then briefly Varand worked for one of the jewelry producing companies in Yerevan, but after three months of working there had to give up his job as his sight was not what it used to be.

Now Varand earns his living by working as a translator for a local fish-breeding company facilitating correspondence with the Arab world and other markets abroad.

“My salary here is far less than it was in Iraq, but we have to get accustomed to it. I think it will be better in the future,” says Varand, who gets only $150 a month, but has to pay $160 monthly for his rented 3-room apartment near Barekamutiun metro in Yerevan. The family sold property in Iraq, and are now living on the money they brought with them.

Soon the Bedrosians will be moving to the house they bought in the capital’s Erebuni district, which is now under repairs. They say it will make their life easier as they will not have to pay a sizable sum of money for the rent every month.

Sosi occasionally takes up a job as a specialist in Western Armenian. This year she was part of the experimental project of teaching Western Armenian among 9th grade students at Armenian schools in Yerevan and in five regions.

Sosi, who worked as the secretary of Archbishop Avak Asadourian in Baghdad and also was part of the editorial staff of the local Armenian newspaper, says she enjoys her life in Armenia.

“I will be a perfect Hayastantsi in 10 years’ time,” she says. “Armenia’s nature and countryside are a paradise and the country is growing fast.”

Ayg is now a first-year student at Northern University in Yerevan. She studies English and French.

“My future is definitely connected with Armenia. Now I'm starting to forget our life in Iraq and feel more at home here among my new Armenian friends,” says Ayg.

As Varand tells the story of their life in Iraq, remembering both their happy moments and times of despair during the bombings, he takes out a thick copybook which he started to write in 1980, and in which he put down the quotes from Armenian books he read away from home.

“Armenian intellectuals, revolutionaries and patriots said everything instead of me in my collection of their famous quotes,” he says, mentioning among them Aknuni, Christopher Mikaelian, Khrimian Hayrik and others.

“I have been inspired by the thought of repatriation since my childhood. And now it is my strong determination to remain here in Armenia no matter what happens in the future,” says Varand.