Twenty-two years ago today, a terrible earthquake leveled thousands of homes in northern Armenia and caused more than 25,000 deaths. This tragic natural disaster caused tremendous suffering in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. Today, just a few factories remain in a place once known for its powerful industrial sector. Unemployment is still rampant, however.
More than 3,000 families are still on the waiting list to receive new apartments. Many are dwelling in the same temporary metal shelters they moved into in 1988 — the ones that today cannot sufficiently protect them from the cold and humidity.
The Armenian Government had promised to solve the population’s housing problem by the year 2012. At one point, this news had filled Gyumretsi with hope, and this hope was renewed when Gyumri’s City Hall was constructed in 2010. Sadly, many of them continue to wait.
International organizations like FAR, which was actually founded in the wake of the earthquake, have helped the city over the past two decades. Many students have been able to continue their studies at FAR’s “Ounjian,” Vazgen A, Octet Music and #6 schools. FAR was one of the first supporters of Gyumri’s #6 School. The organization first provided temporary shelters before it eventually helped to construct its new building. And of course there’s GTech, now regarded as one of the best IT training centers in the country.
And so on this tragic anniversary, please take a moment for all those who lost their lives in the 1988 earthquake and say a prayer for the others who are still struggling because of it. It is our hope that as we continue our efforts, FAR can continue to help Gyumri rebuild.