FAR recently carried out its annual distribution of Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) stipends, which support orphans and children of single mothers from Tavush, Shirak and Syunik provinces, and Javakhk, Georgia. This year, CASP will help 534 children and their families to cover the costs of basic needs, like food, clothing, and heat, as well as additional expenses like extracurricular activities or school supplies.
Mane, 5, and Vahagn, 11, are two of these kids. They live with their mother, Karine, in the little town of Meghri, on Armenia’s southern border.
Vahagn, who is in the sixth grade, used to want to become a policeman. Having recently changed his mind, he now bluntly outlined his plans for the future. “I want to open up a bakery. It’s not a business to make me rich, I know, but it will help me to live a good life.”
Mane, now in her second year at school, seems to have adopted her brother’s former aspiration. “I want to be a policeman; it’s rewarding,” she said.
The family’s financial situation became dire after the children’s father, Vahram, passed away from complications after surgery two years ago at the age of 50. An engineer, he worked in Meghri’s copper-molybdenum factory.
To try and make ends meet and feed the family, Karine grows prunes, pomegranates, and grapes in their garden, and beans and potatoes in their field. She also dries fruit, which she tries to sell. Help from her in-laws keeps her afloat, but she still struggles.
Last year, Karine was relieved that her two children were accepted into CASP, and they will receive an annual financial stipend from until they turn 18.
“CASP is a big help for us. It will help me to cover the costs for food and the kids’ expenses for one month,” said Karine, who will now be able to bring Vahagn to the doctor for an overdue vision check. “It’s just me and these two kids … nothing else matters to me.”
Implemented by FAR, CASP is sponsored by the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).