by Sevak Hakobyan

“Every day, for ten years, I’ve walked ten kilometers to come from Jujevan to Noyemberyan,” recalls Nshanik Hovhannisyan, who has worked at the Noyemberyan Hospital from 1985 to 1995. Today, Hovhannisyan has come to Noyemberyan in a car, and somehow made it up the stairs to the second floor, despite her chronic joint and back pain.

“I used to be an athlete,” says Mrs. Nshanik, who is 73 years old. “I played volleyball in school, and even won trophies. Today, I can’t even walk properly.” She continues: “I stopped playing sports because I got married and was busy raising my kids. Then I began to work at the Noyemberyan Hospital kitchen.”

In 1995, however, she had to leave her job in order to look after her husband, who was injured in a car accident; as well as her son, who was wounded in the Artsakh War.

“Those were dreadful days, as much for our nation as for our family,” Mrs. Nshanik says. “My son was shot in the leg as he was trying to carry a wounded comrade out of the trenches. The Azeris even bombed our hospital, forcing us to take shelter in the basement.”

None of Mrs. Nshanik’s four children and nine grandchildren live in Armenia today. Unable to find work in Tavush, all of her children have moved to Russia. Yet the fact that they live far away from each other has made their bond even stronger. Every time Mrs. Nshanik’s grandchildren call her, they remind her of the things she needs to do to take care of her health. “Put your feet up,” they tell her, or “Take your pills regularly,” or “Don’t lift anything heavy.”

Mrs. Nshanik and her husband used to make a living as animal farmers. But today their only source of income are their pensions. In the past two years, severe osteoarthritis pain has made it very difficult for her to look after her husband or do housework.

In October 2016, during the second medical mission to the Noyemberyan Hospital, organized jointly by Armenia Fund and Adventist Health Glendale (AHG), doctors from AHG had examined Mrs. Nshanik and given her injections as well as medications.

“Within a few days, my pain subsided and I felt much better,” Mrs. Nshanik recalls. “The medications kept me going for several months. But I fell in winter, and gradually the pain returned. So I’ve been waiting impatiently for the return of the doctors from Los Angeles.”

Mrs. Nshanik did not have to wait long. In fact, in 2017, the third Armenia Fund-AHG medical mission to Noyemberyan started a month earlier than it had in the previous year. From September 16 to 21, volunteer physicians and other healthcare professionals from Adventist Health provided free examinations, primary care, surgeries, and medications to more than 2,200 patients from throughout Tavush. Mrs. Nshanik was among the beneficiaries. This time around too, she was examined, given injections, and provided with the medications she needed.

Certain that she’ll be able to walk normally within a few days, Mrs. Nshanik can’t wait to call her grandchildren to tell them she’s already feeling better. She even jokes: “Maybe next year I’ll be able to once again walk to the hospital and thank my doctors in person.”

Photo Credit: Areg Balayan