Tehmine Araskhanyan, 26, grew up in Vanadzor Orphanage, but made a family of her own when she married her husband, Andranik, six years ago, moved in with her in-laws in Armavir Province, and had her sons, Karen, 5 and Karlen, 1.
Just a few weeks ago, the family celebrated a very long-awaited event: the completion of an addition of two new rooms onto their house. This was made possible by FAR’s recently-launched initiative called Assistance to Parentless Children and Youth, which has already supported more than 45 orphanage alumni, orphans and resettled Syrian-Armenian families and youth in myriad ways.
“We hope that this program will provide vulnerable and needy youth with an opportunity to overcome certain barriers and ease their burdens, which have escaped the notice of many institutions for years, and to give them hope for a better life,” said FAR Science and Education Programs Director Eduard Karapetyan.
The program supports vulnerable young people in need of educational assistance, rent assistance, home construction and/or renovation, as well as access to daily basics. After doing research, FAR reached out to specific candidates considered most in need of help.
Tehmine was a Gulamerian Scholarship student in Vanadzor when she was living in the local orphanage and studying to be a nurse at Vanadzor Medical College. When she moved to Etchmiadzin to live at Mer Doon, a home specifically for young women who’ve aged out of orphanages, FAR continued sponsoring her studies after she transferred to Etchmiadzin College.
Tehmine’s house is very small. Half of it is a metallic train wagon which was previously divided into two bedrooms that the entire family shared. They are seasonal poultry farmers, and during the summer they also make money as day laborers on larger farms. Andranik, 32, and his brother, Razmik, 30, work in construction as well, when they can find the work.
FAR covered the costs of all building materials needed to make two additional 36-square-meter rooms. To save money on the construction, Andranik and Razmik built the bedrooms themselves. Tehmine assisted the two as much as she could. FAR employees and some scholarship students also volunteered one weekend to help with construction.
Tehmine also remembers when Eduard Karapetyan, FAR Education and Science Programs Director, told her about the assistance. “He first called in February to tell us about the program. Two months later, they called to ask what we needed. I told them about our living situation. We wanted to build some extra rooms. Nobody believed FAR’s help on this would really come through, however. Only me, but I had known FAR for years,” she said. “So, thank you to FAR, the best organization I know, and a big, hearty thank you to the donors who helped me and my family live in better conditions.”
Assistance to Parentless Children and Youth is funded by the Apelian Family of Des Plains, IL.