Karine, Syuzanna, Lyova, Suren and Nare live with their mother Lusine Kustuzyan in Gyumri. Unemployed, she has to manage to keep the family afloat on $300 per month—the total of her state poverty allowance and the children’s benefits.
Karine, 14, is in the 9th grade. She likes to read; her favorite book is the novel “The Grandmother” by Czech writer Bozena Nemcova. Karine also loves to paint. Susanne, 13, is in the 8th grade. Karine and Syuzanna attend dance classes. This year, they took first place in an international dance competition in Georgia. They have also won prizes during their participation in various dance competitions in Armenia.
Ten-year-old Lyova is a very active 4th grader. Along with school, he swims at the local pool, takes English classes, and enjoys reading. Suren, 9, is in the third grade and he loves Russian writers, especially the poet Alexander Pushkin’s fairy tales. He also goes swimming with his little sister, 4-year-old Nare, when he can.
Two years ago, the family lost their father when he committed suicide, leaving Lusine in a desperate situation, and eventually unable to make their rent. After hearing their story on a local news channel, and as part of their corporate social responsibility program, the Electric Networks of Armenia Company presented the Kustuzyans, and several other families who lost their homes in the Gyumri earthquake, with new houses.
This October, all five children of Lusine were accepted into the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), through which they each receive an annual stipend.
Lusine, who finds her everyday happiness in her children, was very thankful for the support, which has enabled her to buy clothes and school supplies for them.
“They can achieve something only if they study hard, and that’s why I want them to put a lot of effort into their studies. Thus, I want to thank the program organizers and donors. This is a great help to me, and it makes the children also feel very happy, appreciated and special,” she said.
Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) is sponsored by the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Eastern Diocese.