16:46, January 23, 2015
Gayaneh Avetisyan and Dyuma Poghosyan are the proud parents of six boys and five girls.
The large family lives in a rented house in the Armenian town of Armavir.
The landlord has given the family twenty days to vacate the premises.
Before filming, Mrs. Avetisyan had just the one request – “Don’t portray us as down and out, a family to be pitied.” She added that the family needed no assistance from otters and that having a place to call home was their only challenge.
Mr. Poghosyan says the landlord has received complaints from neighbors saying that the large family is the reason for the wall they share constantly getting wet.
“I changed the pipes and have done everything not to cause any problems. But they have latched on this as a reason to evict us. Finding a house to rent for such a large family is hard. Nobody is willing to rent to us when they hear we have so many kids,” Mr. Poghosyan told Hetq.
The family has thirteen days to move out. But where will they go in the middle of winter. Six of the children go to school and the parents are afraid they’ll miss classes due to the disruption.
The family has written numerous times to the president. The letters were forwarded to the provincial governor and then to the town mayor. The answer they received was that the town can do nothing since no new housing is being built.
The parents say they are left with only two options – leave Armenia or solicit the help of others.
“One of my brothers was killed in the war. The other was discharges from the army with psychological problems. I have six sons to give in the service of my country. Are you telling me they can’t allocate us a place to live in this country? We are thinking of leaving for Russia, but I love Armenia so much. We had these children for Armenia and not to take them overseas,” Mr. Poghosyan said.
Mrs. Avetisyan says they are ready to take drastic action if required. “On the last day of the deadline I’ll gather up the children, load them into the car and we’ll set up camp opposite the presidential palace to live. I don’t want that my kids see us reduced to ruin or to suffer psychologically. But what options do we have.”
When Hetq arrived it was the birthday of one of the boys; nine year-old Hakob. “If they evict us, we’ll have to change schools but our school is good. I don’t want to go somewhere else.”
Taking care of eleven children isn’t easy financially. The family’s sole revenue is a state subsidy of 90,000 AMD monthly (US$190) plus another $100 an Armenian benefactor in the U.S. sends monthly. Mr. Poghosyan, who has medical problems, gets the odd delivery job with his car.
This year there was no Christmas tree to decorate the home. Instead, the walls were adorned with balloons to give the place a festive spirit.
The eldest son, who quit school early to work, is now learning to carve tombstone photos. But the meagre utensils don’t allow him to make the carvings complete. He hopes that after the housing problem is solved he’ll find work in his craft and assist the family.
The parents don’t pin their hopes on the government. They believe someone will allocate them a place to live in Armavir or the surrounding villages.
“There are rich folk in Armenia. One column in their home is worth an entire house. And they live in that huge place by themselves. I truly believe there are people out there who can help us so that we feel wanted in this country. All we need is a hole somewhere. Wherever we have lived we have fixed up and improved the place. But now we have been pushed outside with eleven well-mannered kids who will be good future citizens,” Mrs. Avetisyan said.
Contacts: +374 93 32 46 34 Mr. Poghosyan, +374 77 24 17 64 Mrs. AvetisyanBank Account Number: 11500434263600, - Armbusinessbank