Life in an Armenian village is undoubtedly hard. Everyday efforts to survive often get the best of residents, many of whom eventually leave to make a fresh start in Yerevan or abroad.
Davit-Bek is a village 25 kilometers outside of Kapan. At one time, the village had a shoe factory, which was a source of employment for hundreds of people. The factory ceased operating long ago. Just 100 children go to the village’s lone school. Here, Sevada and Sargis Sargsyans attend 6th and 11th grades, respectively. Their mother Sveta, despite her young age of 48, looks like an old woman. She previously worked as a seamstress in the local shoe factory. Her husband Sedrak worked as a tractor driver. While Sveta had several children, many tragically died shortly after childbirth. Today, the two boys and a daughter Lusine are the only survivors.
Although he will graduate from high school in a year, Sargis suffers from serious respiratory problems. He needs surgery, but with the operation estimated to cost $1,000 U.S., it’s unaffordable. Both Sargis and his younger brother Sevada try their best to help their parents. They gather berries in the forest, hack branches of the trees for firewood; sometimes they drive the cattle out to the fields. The family barely manages to make ends meet. Sveta and Sedrak must lean on their meager unemployment assistance to get by.
So the two boys’ recent involvement in the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program was a real boost for the family.
CASP is an initiative of the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). Through support from benefactors abroad, CASP helps children from low-income families who have lost one or both parents through the distribution of yearly stipends, which help them make ends meet. This is the second time the family will receive a CASP stipend. Last winter the money was used to purchase fuel. This year, Sveta will buy warm clothes and winter shoes for her sons.
When we entered Davit-Bek village, it was getting dark and rain fell lightly from the sky. Sargis was hacking wood in the yard. Winter seems to start earlier in these areas. Inside the Sargsyans’ home, however, it was warm and a fire was burning in the furnace. Indeed it was evident that support from CASP warmed not only the bodies but also hearts, and it inspires hope.