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All Eva & Elena want for Christmas is the ball and hula hoop they left in Artsakh

"On New Year’s Eve, we gather a mishmash of food, whip up a makeshift pizza, invite our relatives, and cheerfully ring in the New Year together,” Elena, 8, paints a vivid picture of their festive tradition back in Artsakh, which was culminated by giving gifts to each other. “I left my ball in Machkalashen (Artsakh), so I hope Santa will bring me a new ball to play with my friends in our backyard," her smile radiating hope and excitement.

Seated beside her, Eva, Elena's sister, dreams of a hula hoop left behind during a forced exodus in September 19. “It was a gift from my father that I couldn't bring along when we moved. Fingers crossed, Santa brings the hoop, allowing me to join the neighborhood hula fun,” she adds with a beaming smile.

The two sisters attend a school in Ijevan, while their younger brother, Hrachik, benefits from a renovated Ijevan kindergarten courtesy of FAR and the generous donation from the Mardigian Family Foundation, where the special meal program is sponsored by Ted and Marianne Hovivian of NY.

“Ijevan feels much like our home in Artsakh; I want to stay here and begin anew," shares Evelina Melkumyan, 31, the resilient single mother of three whose husband died in 2020. She adds that her children occasionally express concerns about safety, asking, “Mom, the Turks won't come here, right?” Evelina remains optimistic: “We're still recovering, but we'll get on our feet. My children are my backbone, and together, we will reach all our goals.”

Despite the hardships faced by displaced children like Elena, Eva, and Hrachik, Christmas remains a time of cherished memories and joy. Let's come together, extend a helping hand, and bring Christmas joy and happiness to these children by donating to FAR today.


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