Violetta sits with her 8-year-old granddaughter, Yester.
Violetta Saghyan, 72, spent the first three days of war in a bathrobe, moving from village to village in her region of Artsakh, seeking a safe place to shelter from Azeri attacks.
On the third day, Violetta’s daughter, Lusine, 42, who was in Stepanakert, pleaded with Violetta to leave Artsakh with her. Having strong memories of hiding in bunkers as a child during the Nagorno-Karabakh War in the early 90s, Lusine was adamant that her children not have the same experience.
Together, they fled for Armenia, along with Lusine's five young children, Aghvan, 11; Yervand, 10; Yester, 8; Arman, 5; and Hayk, 2.
Yervand, 10, watches TV in the living room.
With no time to pack, they only managed to take a few bags with them, mostly filled with children’s clothes. While they anticipated a 10-day stay in Armenia, the family has now been away from home for nearly a month with no definitive return in sight.
Violetta separates pumpkin seeds in the kitchen as she prepares dinner.
They were able to seek temporary shelter in Dzoraghbyur, Armenia in the home of a local family who warmly welcomed them as their guests. They have also received emergency assistance from FAR.
Just a few days after their arrival, however, Violetta’s husband, who had stayed behind in Artsakh, was killed when their house in the small town of Martouni in Artsakh was bombed.
Lusine plays with two-year-old Hayk․
Like many others from Artsakh, Violetta had previously experienced incredible loss. Her two sons died in the Nagorno-Karabakh War when they were 21 and 27 years old. Today, Violetta’s two other sons fight on the front lines.
Arman, 5, peeks out from the window.
Violetta and her family are adapting to life in Dzoraghbyur. She frequently cooks to help out their host family. Little Arman was able to celebrate his fifth birthday earlier this month with a cake and candles.
Aghvan, 11, changes his shoes.
The children have started attending the local school and are making new friends.
Yervand, Yester, Aghvan, and Hayk play together.
The host family decided to accept Violetta’s family of seven to help them. Now, despite 13 people all sharing the same space, they’ve managed to peacefully co-exist.
Aghvan talks through the window with some of the neighborhood children.
Violetta said the two families often talk about how much they will miss each other after the war ends and Violetta, Lusine, and the children can return to Artsakh.
Yester watches as Lusine shows photos of the remains of Violetta’s house in Martouni.
Still, each time Violetta hears the sound of a plane fly over Dzoraghbyur she instinctively wants to hide the kids.
Violetta in front of the house in Dzoraghbyur.
She continues to pray for peace every day.