by Sevak Hakobyan

Three-year-old Jenya Khojyan has already decided to become a doctor when she grows up.

The little girl’s inspiration comes from her mother, Tehmine, who for the past seven years has been working as a nurse at the Noyemberyan Hospital’s Gynecology Department.

Jenya often accompanies her mom to the hospital. She’s fond of the doctors. And she doesn’t feel afraid of them, she says, as long as “they don’t hurt” her.

Jenya is the only child of the Khojyan family, who live in the village of Berdavan. Her parents are now planning to have a second child soon. Berdavan is a mere kilometer away from the border with Azerbaijan. The residents have long been accustomed to the frequent gunfire from the Azeri side. Fortunately, Berdavan’s only kindergarten is located in a relatively safe area.

“More than 100 children, among them my Jenya, attend the kindergarten,” Tehmine says. “We’re not worried about them. I, too, was born and raised in Berdavan. We’ve seen it all, and we’re used to the difficulties involved in living in a border village.” She adds, however, that it’s not that easy being a working mom.

“She’s a very active child, full of energy,” Tehmine says of her daughter. “About a year ago, while she was drinking hot tea, she accidentally spilled it all over her. Her burns eventually healed, but a month later we noticed that she was left with colloidal scarring. The scar didn’t hurt, but kept growing in size.”

Local doctors had told Tehmine that Jenya’s condition is hereditary, and that if she were to sustain wounds or burns in the future, their scars might develop into tumors. That’s when Tehmine pinned her hopes on the volunteer physicians who were to come to the Noyemberyan Hospital in 2017, to fulfill their third annual medical mission to Tavush, made possible through the joint efforts of Armenia Fund and Adventist Health Glendale (AHG).

From September 16 to 21, 2017, a team of more than 50 medical professionals form Adventist Health provided a wide range of free medical services as well as medications to residents from throughout the Tavush Region. Doctors operated on 204 patients, while checkups and primary-care services were provided to 2,015 others, including 345 children. Among them was Jenya Khojyan. The Adventist Health doctors gave her an injection that will significantly reduce the size of her scar.

“The doctors said that the scar will have to be removed through surgery, but that Jenya is too young for the procedure,” Tehmine explains. “In the meantime, the injection she has received will reduce the scar, making it much easier for her to undergo surgery in the future.”

Tehmine says she’s hopeful that the joint Armenia Fund-AHG mission will be ongoing, and that years from now her daughter will have a chance to be operated on by doctors from the United States.

Moments after her injection, Jenya is already running around in the hallways of the hospital, opening and closing clinic doors, and telling everyone that she, too, will be working here when she grows up.

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Photo Credit: Areg Balayan