Old address: Domik No. 214/058, near the new Police Station
New address: Mush 2, 7th Street, Building 2/1, Apartment 6

It seems incredible that Natalya Struk was able to raise her family in a ramshackle hut, known as a domik, which lacked even the most basic of human comforts. For 16 interminable years, the family endured the indignity of living in the cramped hovel, without an actual kitchen or restroom, and without any of the utility services most of us take for granted. The Struks were just another statistic in Gyumri’s ongoing homelessness crisis.

Born in Moldova, Natalya married her husband, Artur Hovhannisyan, and moved to Gyumri in 1993, where they started their family. They moved into their domik in 2000. Despite extreme poverty, and despite the unsanitary, downright inhuman conditions of their crumbling hut, Natalya raised three wonderful, bright children there. Her eldest, Michaela, now 23, works at a retail shop; Artashes, 18, is studying to become a chef; and Diana, 17, is training to become a fashion designer. The family’s latest addition is Natalya’s grandson, three-year-old Alex.

Natalya herself looks after her grandchild or works at a farm whenever possible, while her husband works in Russia. Yet given their meager income, which amounts to about $155 a month, the family could not possibly rent — let alone buy — a decent home. But they never lost hope.

In 2016, the Struks received the surprise of their lives when they had a visit from Armenia Fund representatives as well as benefactors Harout and Rita Mesrobian of Los Angeles. During that unforgettable visit, Harout Mesrobian, a cardiologist, and his wife Rita, a pharmacist, presented the Struks with an extraordinary gift: the keys to a new apartment!

Later that day, as the Struks were taken to their new home, they were deeply moved by not only the kindness of their benefactors, but the prospect of starting a whole new life — in a bright, newly renovated apartment that was fully furnished, had a charming balcony, and featured all modern amenities, including appliances.

Now with access to a full-fledged kitchen, Artashes could hone his cooking skills at home; Diana would be able to focus on her creativity in one of the apartment’s spacious, comfortable rooms; and with hot and cold running water, along with an extensive complement of amenities, little Alex would grow up in a clean, safe, and warm environment.

There are hundreds of struggling families in Gyumri, just like the Struks, who are still waiting for the marvelous 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