Asset 3


End of content No more pages to load

Your search did not match any articles

Tatev Khachatryan

Single Mom of Six: “Children are innocent but they are the ones who suffer”

Sveta Sirekanyan, a 45 year-old mother of six, waits her turn in line outside the outside the village mayor’s office in Karekert, a village in Armenia’s Armavir Province.

Like so many times in the past, Mrs. Sirekanyan knows that her application to get her house renovated will again be rejected.

I wait for her outside. She leaves the office with tears in her eyes. There’s no need to ask her what happened. We walk in silence down the stony narrow alley to her house.

As we approach the house, Mrs. Sirekanyan’s youngest, two and a half year-old Angel is waiting outside. Upon seeing her mom, the child runs to her arms and asks, “Have you brought me some candy?”

The mom whispers back, “No, dear Angel.” She tells me that when Angel woke up that morning, she said   she had dreamt she was eating candy and begged her mom to get some.

As I enter the house, little Angel eyes me, the stranger, attentively.

Margarita, the eldest daughter at 26, serves us coffee. She’s recently divorced and has returned to her mother’s side. It’s too cold in the village so Margarita’s two kids are in Yerevan with the father.

Twenty hear-old Marineh, another daughter, quickly leaves the house upon seeing me. “Perhaps she’s embarrassed,” says the mother.

Sveta’s second husband, with whom she loved for six years, took off a month ago and has remarried. Sveta still hopes he’ll return. “He’s left before and came back,” she says.

Another daughter, 24 year-old Karineh, lives in Yerevan and is expecting a child.

The boys, Karen and Misha, 14 and 10 respectively, are away at a Yerevan boarding school and share a dorm room paid for by a benevolent Armenian from Akhalkalak. But the man says he’d like to rent the room out. Mrs. Sirekanyan says if that happens she’ll be at a loss to pay for the boy’s lodging.

The family’s monthly income consists of 36,000 AMD ($81) as welfare allowance and a 19,000 AMD ($43) disability payment for Karen.

Karen and Misha are both in the fifth grade at school. Karen started late because his mother was working at the time and there was no one who could escort the disabled boy to classes. Mrs. Sirekanyan tells me that Karen would like to spend his allowance on a computer notebook so that he’ll have something to do at home.

“I explain to him that if I buy that notebook he’ll have nothing to eat,” says the mom.

Mrs. Sirekanyan used to work at a Yerevan bread factory but health issues prevent her from working now.

The family’s last sack of flour was purchased with the 3,000 AMD the children earned by working as harvesters in the fields. Marineh, who studied the beautician trade in Yerevan, sometimes cuts hair in the village for 500 AMD.

Mrs. Sirekanyan recounts how Misha helped a neighbor move some stuff in Yerevan and earned 500 dram ($1.10). “He handed over the money to me, overjoyed, and said we could buy some bread and sour cream for his Angel.”

Hearing her name, little Angel comes closer, wanting to show me the blue slippers her mom bought for her. “They were fifty dram at the flea market,” Mrs. Sirekanyan says, fighting back the tears. “People sell their old stuff when it no longer fits them. It’s how we get by.”

Neither of Mrs. Sirekanyan’s two former husbands assists the family financially. “I don’t want their money. When my child cries out for his father it pains me very much,” she says.

Mrs. Sirekanyan recounts that her first husband loved to drink, and would beat and curse the children. Once, a neighbor had to rush over and snatch Marineh away from the man who, in a drunken rage, was about to choke Marineh.

“All these kids are psychologically damaged. They didn’t have a normal childhood,” the mother tells me.

Despite all the hardships of raising her children, Mrs. Sirekanyan says she’s never regretted having six.

“I am content that in the eyes of God I have committed no sin. Children are innocent but they are the ones who suffer. My only dream, before I die, is to fix up this house so that my sick child can live peacefully. If only there was someone to come to our aid.”

Before taking my leave, Margarita and Angel go to pick up some fire wood given by a neighbor. Mrs. Sirekanyan repositions the plastic covering up the cracks in the windows so that the wind doesn’t extinguish the stove fire.

Top photo: Margarita and her mother Sveta Sirekanyan (holding Angel)

Comments (2)

Hello Hagop....Thanks for considering to assist this family. Unfortunately, for legal/tax reasons Hetq cannot serve as a go-between. If you know Armenian, we can give you the family's phone number and you can talk to them directly. There might be some way to send cash via MoneyGram or some such service.
Hagop Koushakjian
Dear Hetq, thank you for bringing the stories of these tragic and desperate Armenian families to our attention. But as much as we would like to help these families, it is very difficult to get in touch with them directly. I am sure many of your readers, myself included, would like to help as much as we can. Would it be possible to forward funds for each specific family to you and you could in turn hand it to them?

Write a comment

If you found a typo you can notify us by selecting the text area and pressing CTRL+Enter