Old address: Makeshift metal container No. 46/009
New address: Mush 2 district, Building 9/1, Apartment 13

The Elbakyans are among hundreds of low-income families in Gyumri who not only lost their home to the 1988 earthquake, but have endured the indignity of having to live in a makeshift metal container ever since. Residing in such hovels, which are known as domiks, is not much better than being homeless. The Elbakyans’ domik was a tiny, squalid hut that lacked even the most essential of modern amenities and comforts, leaving the family vulnerable to Northern Armenia’s bitter winters, and forced to go to unimaginable lengths to obtain water and fuel.

Fifty-year-old Marine Elbakyan lived in the domik with her son, daughter-in-law, and infant grandchild. An accountant by training, Mrs. Marine once worked for the local municipality. Currently she’s unemployed. Her son, Ashot, is 26. A technical-college graduate, he’s a computer operator who spends several months a year in Russia, where he goes for seasonal work. Ashot’s wife, Susanna, 22, is trained as a hairstylist. Currently she works as a saleswoman at a children’s clothing store. Ashot and Susanna’s daughter, Marine, is two years old.

In late 2017, the Elbakyans’ lives changed forever when they received a gift unlike any: the keys to a newly renovated, fully furnished apartment in Gyumri’s Mush 2 district. The apartment was gifted to them by Mr. and Mrs. Megerdich and Ani Megerdichian of Canada. Back in the spring of the same year, the couple had visited the Elbakyans at their hut. Having witnessed the downright inhuman conditions in which the family languished, Megerdich and Ani Megerdichian decided then and there to make sure that the Elbakyans would get to celebrate the New Year in a new home. Megerdich Megerdichian is the chairman of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Toronto affiliate. Under his leadership, Toronto’s Armenian community continues to sponsor numerous development projects in Armenia. He and his wife are major donors themselves, with the projects they’ve personally sponsored including the provision of apartments for the Elbakyans and another family in Gyumri.

The Elbakyans are the 34th family to receive a new home through Armenia Fund’s Gyumri Housing Project. As they arrived in their new, three-bedroom residence — which also features brand-new furniture and appliances — members of the family could not find the words to express their excitement and joy. Soon, they would get to enjoy their best New Year in a very long time. More importantly, however, the anticipation of living with dignity in such a bright, spacious home had already signaled the start of a new chapter in their lives, inspiring them to feel renewed hope and make fresh plans for the future.

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, 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