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Mаry Mamyan

14 Year-Old Edgar: “I’ll probably go to work at the quarry as well, breaking rocks”

The clothesline, full of wash, hanging from the second story of this building indicates that people actually live inside.

A dilapidated staircase leads one to the living space of Arous Mkrtchyan and her family.

Symbols of the former Soviet Union are still visible inside the cavernous building that once served as the cultural center in the Hakhtanak village in Armenia’s Tavoush Province.

Ten years, after getting divorced, Arous came to live with her children in one of the rooms of the center. Over the years, other homeless families have come and gone as well. Arous and her family have remained, not having the means to find other housing.

Her two daughters have married. She now lives here with her two sons, 14 year-old Edgar and 8 year-old Artyom.

Arous works as a cleaner at a stone quarry nearby. She also does the occasional odd job when available. She says that she’s filed for social assistance with Noyemberyan Social Services on several occasions. But she’s been told that the building where she lives isn’t considered habitable and that she needs additional documentation to be eligible. Assistance is thus caught up in mounds of red tape.

“We get by somehow. But I’d be lying if I told you I can afford new clothes for the kids. Otherwise, when it comes to nourishment and the rest, we make ends meet,” she says.

Arous doesn’t have to worry about paying for utilities because they don’t have gas. The one room is heated by a wood stove. She and her son Edgar gather wood from a nearby forest. She can also pay for the little electricity they use.

Edgar isn’t sure if he’ll stay in school until graduation. He’s always thinking of ways to make money and help his mother.

The boy says that while others leave for Russia for work, he doesn’t want to follow in their footsteps because he’s certain that people are exploited there.

“I want to remain in the village. I’ll probably go to work at the quarry as well, breaking rocks,” Edgar says.

Photos: Narek Aleksanyan

Comments (1)

Help your mum as much as you can good lads

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