Houry Berberian left her life in Aleppo, Syria when violence engulfed her home. While she didn’t want to go she thought that seeking refuge in Armenia for a couple of months until tensions subsided would be a good idea. That was in 2014. Like many, Houry had no choice but to adapt to a completely new life.
“It was hard at first. We are very different from the locals and we have created our little Armenia in Aleppo. I miss it very much,” she recollected with sorrow.
A former teacher, Houry had to work various odd jobs in Armenia. Then in 2016, she attended an expo in Yerevan where she met her current business partner, Silva Kalajian, who had also left Syria a few years prior. After finding that they both had an affinity for party planning they started Swan Event Planning. The business recently received our (SBA) grant so that it could expand.
Swan Event Planning began by offering wedding planning services for diasporans who would travel to Armenia for their nuptials. They then expanded to help the local population with anything from weddings to baptisms to corporate events. SBA has enabled them to purchase more materials needed for different events, ultimately allowing them to take on more clients. The income of the business has doubled and Houry and Silva have hired two staff members.
The two entrepreneurs now have no intention of leaving their new home.
“We are here to stay, which is something we doubted last year because of the war,” said Houry. “But we still hope for peace in Syria.”
SBA is made possible by the generous support of the Howard and Catherine Atesian Family of Michigan.