Hovhannes, Amalya and Their Granddaughter: Living Under One Roof with Rats
Next to a recently constructed building in the Akhouryan community in Armenia’s Shirak Province, stands a rusting container hut (domik) in which Hovhannes Tigranyan, his wife Amalya, and their 3-year-old granddaughter live.
From outside, it’s clearly not suitable for living. The roof is rotted, and the iron walls are covered with rust and holes.
As I approach the hut, Hovhannes comes out from under the trees, followed by a woman and a barefoot girl, wearing a shirt that’s way too big for her.
The parents of the 3-year-old girl have gone to work abroad. They’ve left her in the care of the grandparents until they can earn enough money to buy a house of their own.
Hovhannes tells us that the family has been living in the container hut for a long time. He’s not sure how long. Before that, the family lived in Hovhannes's parents house, and in other houses.
The 1988 Spitak earthquake didn’t impact them. Suffering no property losses, they’re not eligible for state aid.
Showing me the dilapidated state of the container hut, Hovhannes and Amalya accompany me inside, shouting out warnings to watch for holes as I step. The floor is rotten, and the holes are covered with any item at hand.
"The container hut is full of rats. Out of fear, we leave the lights on at night so that they don’t harm the child," says Hovhannes.
He says they’ve repeatedly appealed to Akhouryan's mayor and government members on this issue. While the Akhouryan mayor has promised to solve the problem, nothing has been done. They don’t have fuel, and don’t know how to heat the hut.
Hovhannes says there are plenty of free apartments in the community, and if the mayor wanted to, he could provide them with one. He also says that the municipality has never supported them, except for getting them some temporary work.
Amalya says that when it rains, water leaks from the roof, drenching every corner of the hut.
Neither has permanent work. The mayor got Hovhannes temporary work cleaning streets in Akhouryan. The grandfather is now unemployed.
Hovhannes says that although he’s had a stroke, he’s still able to work so that they have something to eat. He gets some work as a day laborer and makes brooms to sell on the market for 300-500 AMD each.
Hovhannes says they don’t get any state allowance. Their married daughter is registered at the same address, and she’s the one who receives the allowance.
"The child realizes that we have almost nothing to eat this year, so she asks for nothing," says Amalya, quickly spoon-feeding the child. The little girl is silent, carefully examining unfamiliar guests.
Akhouryan Mayor Artzroun Igityan says that they used to give 30-40,000 drams annually to the family in assistance, but that they haven’t this year.
The mayor says that he will try to resolve the Tigranyans’ apartment issue. Though the municipality cannot allocate an apartment in the recently constructed building, Igityan says it will resolve the problem somehow.