Seventy-year-old Anahit Lalayan has been living at Vanadzor Old Age Home (VOAH) for the last three years. Originally from Yerevan, Anahit had a rather tough childhood. Prior to VOAH, she was widowed and alone; her stepchildren used to only visit about once a year.
Anahit’s father died in a car accident when she was just 14. She was the eldest child in her family and at 21 she started working at the Arabkir Clock Factory to help support her sister and brother. Three years later, she started working at a factory that produced notebooks.
“In 1976, I got a job at a shoe factory; I was assembling shoes. In 1979, I went to a textile factory then, in 1982, I started to work at a factory for souvenirs and strung necklaces out of beads. Everywhere I worked, I stayed for three years,” said Anahit. “I don’t know why. I guess I always wanted something different, eventually.”
In 1984, she graduated from Metropolitan College and found a job that she stuck with, working as an assistant train conductor until 1991. She stopped when she married her husband Grigor, who was 14 years her elder and stayed home to raise his children.
“He had four kids—not little kids, but they were young. I was his third wife,” said Anahit. She and Grigor were married for 28 years. “I didn’t want to be a burden for his children after his death so I came here.”
As a child, Anahit dreamed of becoming a famous singer. For years, she was a member of a singing group and even performed at an army officer’s home in Yerevan during Soviet times. Still fond of it, she now gives mini-concerts to her contemporaries at VOAH from time to time. She also gives lessons in national and folk music and teaches others how to sing together in a choir.
“It’s very good here,” said Anahit. “The director treats me well and everyone is very lovely. I feel so good here.”