The global economic crisis has hit communities hard all around the world. Armenia is no exception, which makes programs like the BAFA soup kitchens more important than ever. These kitchens, which are run jointly by FAR and the San Francisco-based Bay Area Friends of Armenia (BAFA), have become a crucial means of support for many families and individuals, both young and old.
The five soup kitchens were established 15 years ago to provide vital support to Armenians after the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, they continue to offer a lifeline by offering free meals, supplies, and even a social outlet to those in need. The kitchens — three in Yerevan and two in Ashtarak and Nor-Hajn — serve about 850 people a day?.
Among them are people like Roza Karapetyan, 78, whose pension of 19,000 AMD is barely enough for her to survive in her small room at the Nor-Hajn Dormitory. Roza and her husband left their lives in Artsvashen after the Azeri army seized the territory and forced out all Armenians in 1992. Her husband died two years after their arrival to this small town adjacent to Yerevan.
Another beneficiary is 38-year-old Susanna Khachatryan, a mother of two. Since her husband passed away, the soup kitchen has become her family’s only hope for salvation. Her daughters, Araksya, who is in the 7th grade, and Ani, who is in the 4th grade, are among its youngest beneficiaries.
“They are fond of the tasty meals served in the soup kitchen,” said Coordinator Rafik Martirosyan. “Though the country improved year after year in the period following independence, a certain layer of society still longs for its daily bread.” FAR and BAFA are doing their best to fill the void.