Old address: Hut No. 217/054, Repini Street, across from the Music School
New address: Mush 2, Building 65, Apartment 16

The Sukiasyans were among Gyumri’s forgotten: struggling on the margins, surrounded by dreadful living conditions, barely scraping by. Such circumstances make their story even more amazing, considering that Anahit Sukiasyan, the mother of the family, has been able to raise four exemplary children, despite the odds.

The Sukiasyans have lived in domiks ever since the 1988 earthquake. After years of enduring the abusive behavior of her alcoholic husband, Anahit divorced him in 2011 and eventually rented yet another domik, which she moved into with her children. It was a cramped, battered hut, lacking even the most basic amenities and human comforts, such as a heating system or an actual kitchen. Anahit’s health has declined severely due to decades of being exposed to the cold, dampness, and unsanitary conditions of such hovels. Yet the single mom has always worked extremely hard, washing dishes at restaurants or cleaning houses, determined to help provide a better future for her children.

Anahit’s eldest daughter, Ani, studies at Yerevan’s Agrarian university and is an accomplished singer. The second daughter, Nadejda, has received a scholarship to study at the Fine Arts Academy, also in Yerevan. Anahit’s oldest son, Andranik, is a multiple-award-winning weightlifting champion who now serves in the army, in Artsakh’s “Yeghnikner” regiment. The family’s youngest, Narek, is an extraordinarily bright child, but almost missed out on school because Anahit couldn’t afford to buy clothes and school supplies for him. But with guidance from Armenia Fund, she received assistance from Gyumri’s social services, and Narek was not deprived of his education after all.

By 2016, with Anahit’s three older children away studying or serving in the army, only she and Narek were left in the domik. The family’s monthly income consisted of $82 — at best. Anahit was three months behind on her rent and had received an eviction notice. Soon, the entire family would become homeless. Only a miracle could end their plight.

That miracle arrived in late 2016, when representatives of Armenia Fund visited the Sukiasyans at their hut, bringing with them a secret envelope. The honor of opening it was given to Narek. It contained the keys to a new apartment! Yes, after a lifetime of unimaginable suffering, the Sukiasyans were to have their own home.

Later that day, as they were taken to their new residence, tearful family members excitedly took turns to express their joy and gratitude. What they were experiencing, room after room, was a bright, newly renovated, and fully furnished apartment that featured a complement of amenities, including appliances. The freezing cold and dampness of those wretched domiks were now to be a thing of the past. Anahit would no longer have to grapple with the awful, unsanitary living conditions she had been stuck with most of her adult life. And, as importantly, there was plenty of room in the apartment to accommodate the entire family.

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

Photo Credit: Areg Balayan