I have visited the Nor Kharberd Orphanage in Ararat Marz several times. Recently, FAR Communications Officer Hasmik Manukyan accompanied me on my visit to the orphanage to distribute jackets and boots to the children. From the outset this trip seemed like it would be an ordinary one. Yet, the very moment we met the disabled children of Nor Kharberd, we were filled with excitement. Witnessing the children’s happiness upon receiving the gifts and hearing their words of gratitude filled us with joy.
Today, more than 260 mentally and physically disabled children between the ages of 6 and 24 live at Nor Kharberd. And while the Armenian government in recent years has taken some serious steps to improve the conditions of those children, many needs have yet to be addressed.
Orphanage Director Harutyun Balasanyan proudly showed us some of the recent improvements, like a new sub building constructed by the government and a few rooms that have been renovated due to the contributions of various supporters. But he also urgently stressed the outstanding needs, which are almost impossible to address due to the country’s financial crisis. While there are handicapped ramps on the grounds, there are too few to actually allow the children to freely move around the campus in their wheelchairs. As a result, it’s very difficult to travel between the facility’s buildings. The living room also desperately needs renovation. It serves as a waiting room for visitors who often must pass the entire day there.
Harutyun also hopes to build a rehabilitation center. “As a physician, I deeply realize what a crucial role something like a water therapy or a rehabilitation center would play in the improvement of the children’s health. If we ever succeed in fulfilling this dream, I would consider myself the happiest man in the world,” Harutyun said.
Upon our departure, we expressed words of acknowledgement to the entire staff. They all deserve the highest appreciation for their devotion to such important work. We hope that people will continue to try and improve the lives of these children who deserve happiness and love. I hope that society will never be indifferent to their fate.