Old address: Gorky Street, metal container No. 161/047
New address: Mush 2 District, 11th Street, Building No. 1, Apartment 25

Lyova Galstyan and his wife, Voskehat, are among thousands of Gyumri families whose lives were turned upside down by the 1988 earthquake. The parents of three children, Lyova and Voskehat lost almost everything: their two daughters were crushed to death when the earthquake struck, and the apartment building in which they lived lay in ruins. Their only consolation was that their infant son, Harutyun, had survived the disaster.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, as Armenia came face to face with the mind-boggling challenge of rebuilding entire communities, the Galstyans found themselves homeless. Housing assistance was extremely limited, and the family had no resources to secure a roof over their heads. Within a year, however, they were able to scrape some money together and bought a small shack. Known as a domik, this was essentially a metal container converted into a living space. It consisted of a single room, with absolutely no amenities: no kitchen or restroom, and no access to municipal utilities such as water and gas.

The Galstyans’ domik was so tiny that there was no room to sleep in. So the family, which had grown in 1991 with the birth of a second son, Artur, spent nights at the homes of relatives or friends. With the family’s total income teetering around $140 a month, renting — let alone buying — a decent home was never an option.

The Galstyans have languished in the dreadful conditions of their hut for over 28 years, with their situation exacerbated by health issues. Lyova has grappled with a physical disability as well as asthma, while Artur was born with cerebral palsy. He has had two surgeries and received physical therapy to try to gain the use of his feet.

In fact, the story of how Artur has gone on to become a dynamic, independent young man is as amazing as it is inspiring. At 10, he put his wheelchair aside, and, with a superhuman effort, started to try to walk. Today, his gait is still unsteady, but he can walk up to three kilometers a day. He has also excelled at his studies and is now an award-winning athlete. Overcoming the psychological blow of being shunned by classmates because of his cerebral palsy, he has not only graduated from high school, but earned two college degrees, specializing in computer science. A beloved member of the Pyunik Sports Association, Artur is an accomplished arm-wrestler and weight-lifter, regularly winning top awards in regional and national competitions. He is also the recipient of the Shirak Region’s prestigious Mesrop Mashtots Medal for athletic excellence.

As for Artur’s brother, Harutyun, he has become a senior lieutenant in the Armenian army. After getting married in 2017, he has moved to Nubarashen, where he lives with his wife.

Recently, while hosting a group of Armenia Fund representatives at their domik, the Galstyans received from them the most wonderful surprise imaginable: the keys to a new apartment. It was a gift from Armenia Fund and the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s German affiliate. That day, the Galstyans were taken to their new home, in Gyumri’s Mush 2 District. What awaited them was a bright, spacious, fully renovated apartment, complete with brand-new furniture, appliances, and every amenity one could ask for — made possible by Armenia Fund’s ongoing Gyumri Housing Project.

Here, in these beautiful surroundings, Artur would have all the comfort and ease to continue to pursue his goals as a computer specialist and athlete. And after decades of living in the unsanitary conditions of their hut, his father would at last get to enjoy the soothing atmosphere of a modern home.

The Gyumri Housing Project is an ongoing initiative, and the support of caring donors is always welcome. Every single dollar counts in making a difference in the lives of Gyumri’s homeless families. It takes only around $25,000 to cover the costs of purchasing an apartment for a family, renovating it, furnishing it, and equipping it with all necessary appliances.

There are hundreds of struggling families in Gyumri who are still waiting for the day when they’ll leave the indignity of homelessness behind, and be given a fresh horizon to live for. With your generous contribution today, we can make their dream come true.

Photo Credit: Areg Balayan