Հայրենասիրական երգերը կամուրջ կը ստեղծէն ներկայի ու անցեալի հետ: Մեզ կը կապի մեր նախահայրերուն հետ, մեր պատմութեամ , ու մեր մշակոյթին հետ: Ուր ու ալ ըլլանք աշխարհի մէզ , երքը կ՛ունենայ նոյն արժէքը եւ կ՛ունենայ նոյն իմաստը: Երբ Արցախի մէզ մեր անցուցած մեր գիշերներէն մէկը կ՛աւարտէինք Յեղափոխական երգերով, մենք լսեցին անծանօթ երգ մը: «Ղարաբաղցի երգը:» Անդրադառնալով երգի բառերուն զգացի որ երքը շատ ճշգրիտ ծերով կը նկարագրէ Ղարաբաղցիի նկարագիրը:
«Պատուել գիտէ նա միշտ հիւրին,
Գիտէ գինը աղ ու հացին
Միշտ հիւրասէր ու միշտ բարի
Միշտ սրտաբաց Ղարաբաղցին»
Առաջին իսկ օրէն, Արցախ ընդունուեցանք թագաւոր- թագուհիներու պէս: Անոնք մեզ կը յարգէին իբրեւ հիւր: Ժամանակի ընթացքին անոնք մեզի հետ սկսան վարուիլ ինչպէս տեղացիներ որովհետեւ վերջապէս գէսէին որ հայեր էինք, եւ ինչքանով որ այս երկիրը իրենց կը պատկանի նաեւ կը պատկանի մեզի:
«Մշակ է նա ու շինարար,
Բայց հասարակ մարդ մի կարծի,
Գիտնական է ու զօրաւար,
Ղարաբաղցիներուն մասին խօսելով պէտք է ամպայման մէկը յիշէ իրենց լաւագոյն նկարագիրներէն մէկը որը իրենց տաղանդն ու աշխուժութիւնն է: Երբ ժամը կը հասնի խարոյկ վառելու, Ղարաբաղցին մրջիւնէն արագ կ՛աշխատի որպէսզի շուտով պատրաստ է կրակը: Երբ ժամը կ՛ըլլայ լուրջ հարցեր լուծելու, Ղարաբաղցին կը քննարքէ հարցը եւ կը փոխանակէ կարծիքներ որպէսզի գտնէն հարցին պատասխաններ:
«Խաղաղ է նա, համբերատար,
Բայց թէ հոգով, դու դառնացիր
Ամպի նման կ՛որոտայ,
Շանթ ու կրակ, Ղարաբաղցին:»
«Ուր էլ լինես իմ բարեկամ,
Դոն նրա հետ ընկերացիր,
Վատ ընկարոջ համատ անցամ,
Կեանքը կու տայ Ղարաբաղցին:»
Այս կարճ պահը բաւարար ժամանակ էր որ ինծ անդրադարյձուց Ղարաբաղցի ունի մեծ հայրենասիրական ոգի եւ ունի մեծ սիրտ որովհետեւ լաւ թէ վատ ընկարոջ համար կը զոհուի որովհետէւ գիտէ որ պիտի զոհուի փրկելու ուրիշ հայ մը: Թող ամեն հայ առնէ օրինակ ղարաբաղցիէն ըլլալով համբերատար ու յոյսով որպէսզի հասնինք մեր նպատակներուն:
Հայաստանէն մեկնիլը ոչ մէկուս համար հաճելի չէր: Ամէն անձ կ՛ուզէր պատճառ մը գտնել կամ անձնագիրը «սխալմամբ» կորսնցնել որպէսզի Ամերիկա չի վերադարնար: Բաժնուիլը հայրենիքէն աւելի դժուար է երբ գիտէս որ ամբողջ 7 շաբաթը այցելած ես տուն-թանգարաններ , եկեղեցիներ, Ճավախք, Արագած լեռ, ու շան ուրիշ վայրեր, բայց երբեք չի կրցար մօտենալ Արարատ լերան ու քեզ կարծես յաջողութիւն կը մաղթէ երբ հասնիս օդակայան: Ճիշդ այդ վարկյեանին կը յիշէս մեր յեղափոխաշունջ երգերը ու կը մտաբերես հայուն սրբազան նպատակները: Փոքր ազգ ենք բայց մեր նպատակները, իտէալները եւ յոյսը շատ մեծ է:
Հայ Երիտասարդաց Դաշնակցութեան Արեւմտեան Ամերիկայի ծրագրած ճամբարը արդէն իսկ հասած է իր աւարտին: Հարիւրաւոր պզտիկներու համար հերոսներ էինք, տասնեակ խանութներու համար դարձանք կարեւոր յաճախորդներ, գիւղերու ու քաղաքներու համար դարձանք օրուայ խօսակցութեան գլխաւոր թեման…
Բայց մեր գործը հոս չ՝աւարտիր:
Հայրենիքին ծառայել երբեք դադար չ՝ունի:
Հայ Դատի համար նուիրումը զոհաբերութիւն չէ, այլ պարտականութիւն:
Ամէնէն երէցէն մինչեւ կրտսեր հայը այսօր ընելիք ունի: Պայքարը կը շարունակուի որովհետեւ այդ մեր պարտքն է մեր նահատակներուն կտակին: Եթէ երէկ մեր նպատակն էր Արցախ ազատագրել, ուրեմն այսօր մեր նպատակը Արեւմտեան Հայաստանին վերատիրանալն է:
Եւ ամպայման կը վստահեցնեմ ձեզի օր մը Միասնութեան Պարը պիտի պարուի Արարատի շուրջը:
Օր մը Վանայ ծովուն վրայ գտնուող եկեղեցիներուն մէջ մոմ պիտի վարենք:
Օր մը Անի քաղաքի շքեղ եկեղեցիներէն դուրս պիտի գան նոր պսակուած զոյգեր:
Օր մը Մուշ քաղաքի ճամբաններուն վրայ հայ ծերունին պիտի ողջունէ աշակերտներուն որոնք կ՝երթան դպրոց:
Օր մը Արեւմտեան Ամերիկայի Հայ Երիտասարդաց Դաշնակցութիւնը Արեւմտեան Հայաստանի քաղաքներուն ու գիւղերուն մէջ պիտի կազմակերպէ Ճամբար մը:
Օր մը ես ու դու պիտի ըլլանք դրացիներ շքեղ Ատանայի մէջ:
WRIGHTWOOD, Calif.More than 60 alumni from the Armenian Youth Federation joined with 25 current members of the organization to reflect on the past and plan for the future during the AYFs inaugural Alumni Weekend at AYF Camp.
The event, held on the weekend of August 27-28, was organized by the Alumni Central Council, whose primary goal is to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the AYF and its alumni.
The purpose of the event was to reconnect AYF alumni of different generations to current AYF members and their work, said AYF alumnus and organizing committee member Tamar Baboujian. The weekend exceeded our expectations, and offered a genuine opportunity for alumni to relive their AYF days, share ideas and support the organizations ongoing work.
Following AYF Camp tradition, the weekend began with the raising of the Armenian flag and opening remarks by the director of the weekend, Aram Kaloustian. The participants were then broken into red, blue, orange color groups where they were pinned against each other in a series of friendly competitions.
The first competition was a scavenger hunt, featuring riddles about AYF, Armenian, and Camp history. The team who solved all 10 riddles and arrived at the final destination first became the winner. There was just enough time afterwards for an impromptu game of Steal the Bacon. The game was nostalgic for the alumni reminding them of a time where they would run around the campground with reckless abandon.
Undeniably, the Mock Convention portion of the weekend was the highlight, with participants sitting down in a legislative meeting to hear about the state of the organization and discuss ways to improve relations with alumni. A special tivan and a resolutions committee was appointed, consisting of both current members and alumni. A formal video presentation on the years activities was also presented by AYF Central Executive Chair, Arek Santikian, who then took questions from the floor and participated in the discussion.
A lively exchange took place on such topics as expanding the Alumni Association and carrying on the AYFs mission into the future. Ideas such as creating a mentorship program where alumni would help secure internships for youth to further their career aspirations were also proposed. The main ideas were drafted into formal resolutions and approved by the assembly. They will be officially submitted to the AYFs Annual Convention taking place later this month.
Helping AYF members with internships is a great idea, says Crescenta Valley Zartonk member Christina Der Sarkissian. We should take advantage of the alumnas professional skills and bridge the generation gap to strengthen the organization.
Throughout the weekend, AYF members of different generations were given the opportunity to interact and bond. The weekend served as a means to connect lifelong friends who throughout the years have passed the ranks of the AYF. The celebration held on Saturday night consisted of members young and old eating traditional Armenian food, dancing to live classical Armenian melodies, and singing revolutionary songs.
The energy level was extremely high and the spirit of the event was outstanding, noted alumnus Stepan Altounian.
The Alumni Weekend is only the start of efforts directed at reengaging AYF alumni with the current members activities of the AYF. Altounian added, Once an AYF member, always an AYF member.
In the spirit of involving alumni with the AYFs current initiatives in the Diaspora and Homeland, the Alumni weekend also served as a fundraiser for purchasing three new computers for the Armenian Youth Federation chapter in Stepanakert, Artsakh.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.
Many think of their home as the house they live in or even the city where they grew up. When I hear the word home, I think of a place that makes me the happiest, a place where I feel as though I belong, a place that I have made countless memories, a place where I take the good with the bad and still smile. For me, home is even a place you don’t want to leave, a place that holds a purpose for your existence, and a place that holds a special spot in your heart. Home is also where you have people who you love and cherish, people who accept you for you, people who let you be you, people who continuously challenge you, and where you have people who will remain in your heart forever.
My definition of home has changed during my summer in Hayasdan. I had the opportunity to live in different cities and villages- each one feeling “homier” than the next. I formed life long friendships with so many different types of people. I met kids who blew my mind away by how knowledgeable, creative, independent, and tough they are. I was lucky enough to visit historic places- even some that might not be around for much longer. I was told about real problems, which have showed me how minute everything in my life I have classified as a “problem” truly is. I witnessed with my own two eyes the horrific living conditions some people live in, not to mention how some have cardboard as their roof and table cloth as walls; yet that still does not stop them from offering everything they have to others. Hayasdan has taught me to be much more open minded and much less judgmental and to not be afraid to come out of my comfort zone. I have learned to focus on important issues and to not waste my time on the little things. I have learned to jump at the opportunity to try something new, and to not be afraid to ask questions.
When I hear the word home, I automatically think of Hayasdan. The Youth Corps program has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. With the beautiful sites, fun events, and wonderful times, I also saw the negativity and hardship the locals deal with in Armenia. I have learned so much from my co-participants, from the campers, from the local Ungers, and from the locals. My summer in Hayasdan has been indescribable, and truly one that I will never forget; and I am lucky to say that I experienced all of this in my home.
The Armenian Genocide is arguably one of the biggest parts of recent Armenian history and without question the most devastating event the Armenian people have faced. The two times that I have visited the Dzitzernakapert memorial, I have left with tears streaming from my eyes. The pure and utter grief I feel from viewing the records from the museum of the attempted annihilation of my people is too much for me to hold in. It makes me wonder how such cruelty and inhumanity can even exist in the world.
And then I am soon reminded by the many crosses that our country bears that we are apparently a very dedicated Christian people. The sadness I feel then slowly turns into anger. Personally, it baffles me at how submissive people seem to act when it comes to religion. Despite pain, suffering, death, war, famine, disease, and genocide; people still have an undying love for God and their religion. How can people suffer through so much hardship and still bear to turn the other cheek. It seems to me that some Armenians may even just enjoy the bragging rights of being the first Christian nation. Although I know and understand the important role the Armenian church played in organizing Armenians when we had no other form of a strong Armenian community, it does not ring true today since we now have an independent nation and a great many diasporan Armenian organizations that unite our people outside of the homeland. The country is suffering economically and requires basic infrastructure and social programs like roads, schools, hospitals, street lighting, trash pick up, etc. Yet at any chance they can get, they build new churches everywhere. I appreciate the old churches we have for its historical and architectural value, but it just seems illogical to keep building new churches when the country needs money for many other things. The churches literally contribute nothing but false hope to the society; meanwhile building a school or hospital can impact a community for many generations to come.
My reasons for losing my faith I think are very simple and I am surprised there are not more Armenians like me. After seeing records and pictures of the genocide, I started raising questions to myself about morality. The usual questions came up of how bad things happen to good people; is it worth the suffering and pain if in the end an eternity of heaven is granted; until at last I thought of the existence of evil. I personally don’t think that any human can necessarily be what is considered “evil”. It’s always points of view and which side of the fence you’re sitting on. To me, someone being evil is someone who is sane and acts only to cause harm and devastation without concrete reason to their cause. With this in mind, I visited the genocide memorial and witnessed the accounts of what happened almost one hundred years ago. The only things I could think of was that I hope that there is no God, because if there is, he knew of what would happen, he witnessed what happened, he allowed it to happen, and he has yet to punish those responsible for it. If this God were to exist, he does not sound like the all powerful, knowledgable and loving God that people are told about. He sounds cruel, evil, and worse than the devil. If we are God’s children, and he punishes some with death and disease to teach others to live better, I don’t want that God. I find it incredibly difficult to think that any sane person on the face of this earth would even think to kill one of their children in order to teach the other. That’s why I don’t believe in any sort of deity or super natural powers, because I can’t even begin to imagine such evil existing and controlling everything in the universe. In politics, we praise democracy and freedom while we talk down against tyranny and dictators, but when the same instances of dictatorship and censorship are present in religion, we turn a blind eye to it and make exceptions for the church.
I didn’t write this blog to verbally harass Christianity or any other religion. I can understand and respect peoples reasons for being religious, spiritual, or having faith. Everybody is entitled to believe in anything they desire. I’m just bothered by those who claim to hold actual knowledge and truth of a supernatural deity without any real proof. I’m also bothered by those who claim to be religious, but are only religious because they were raised that way and have never actually sat down to think for themselves what they really believe. People should not have to wait and suffer in order to by chance get some kind compensation from a god. People should take hold of their own destiny and act to make their own lives better for themselves, not for some god. I’ve written this blog to express myself openly and freely as an Armenian atheist that is a proud member of the AYF. I want people to know that Armenians do not necessarily have to be tied down to Christianity and that we should embrace any religion, or non religion since there are some people that have even told me that an Armenian must be a Christian or else he/she is not an Armenian at all. We as a people need to progress and embrace a more secular approach to religion and do away with the traditional archaic ideologies.
Vrej Haroutunian came to pick me up from the Zvartnots airport a day too soon. Vache Tomassian waited at the airport for four hours until he saw my face. My poor leaders. It was a troublesome journey getting to Armenia and it seemed like all these obstacles in the way didnt want me seeing Armenia for the very first time. But I got my way and had the most amazing summer ever. As the taxi driver took us to our hostel, I was that character in the movies that sticks her head out the window to have a good look at everything and be completely astonished by her new surroundings.
Armenia did so much more to me than I can ever imagine. Their hospitality and their ease of being genuinely happy with simplicity because they have imperishable hope is really something else. No matter where we went, whether it was Gyumri, Shushi, or Yerevan, every deghatsi made us feel like we had a home there. Digin Lilig (our host mom in Gyumri) would make us tea and coffee every morning as we would get ready for jampar. She knew how much I loved her tea that on the very last day, she gave me all she had left of it to bring home. In Shushi, our host dad Saro, who always wanted me to help him perfect his already fluent English, was always so ambitious and you could see the glowing brightness in his eyes. When I was thanking him for letting the group stay at his home, he cut me off and said, This is our home now, not my home. In Yerevan, we took a cab to TUMO, where we were going to see Serj Tankian in concert, and when we got there we asked the driver how much we owe him and his response was, nothing. Khachig Joukhajian tried giving him the money three times and he refused to take it because he said, you are Armenians. Last but not least, on our last day in Yerevan, we went to Yeraploor, which is the cemetery of all the freedom fighters. While we waited for our taxis, we talked to one of the security guards there. During our conversation, his phone rang. The call was from his wife whom he hasnt seen in eight days and instead of excusing himself from the circle to go tell his wife he misses her, he picks up the phone and says, Im talking to our diaspora, we’ll talk later.
Aside from all these people, what truly touched our hearts were the kids we got to work and play with. They were satisfied with so little and put their families cares and needs before their own. After every two weeks, saying goodbye to them felt like the hardest thing to do. Each and every one of the kids we had the privilege of meeting and spending such little time with, has a little piece of each and every one of our hearts. The attachment and memories they left us with this summer makes all of us want to go back to our homeland every year, and even live there if and once we get the opportunity to.
It has been over a week that I’ve been “home”. A week of seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen for six weeks, but the people and buildings I was missing the most were the people I lived with for six weeks and my homes that I had in Armenia. Instead of turning the radio on and listening to the new popular songs in Los Angeles I have a CD of songs that we would always sing in Armenia whether it be “Made in Armenia” by Grisho (our Gyumri theme song) or “Kharapaghtsi”. I know it sounds ridiculous for me as an individual who is fortunate enough to live the life I live, to be getting the education that I am getting, and to have all the comforts of the world to say that the only one thing I want is to live in a country with the second worst economy in the world. The difference between living in Los Angeles and Armenia is huge with the main one being you actually live there. You don’t live life to satisfy the quota that society has set for you, you live for you. My time in Armenia was short and I may be speaking too soon because six weeks isn’t enough to judge an entire country and judge the queries that the people have which cause them to leave. There is one moment in Armenia that I will never forget however cheesy it is… okay it is more like three separate events that build on each other to make one story.
The day that Arpa and I got the approval to go to Hamahaygagan Panagoum (ARF World Youth Camp) we were ecstatic, but at the same time reluctant to be leaving our kids… yes it was only a day early but it meant not spending an entire six hours with them and not getting to see their hantes on Friday. While saying goodbye Arpa and I were in a corner talking to two of her color boys, Asri and Ara, and Mihran from my color. We explained to them that we would be back in Shushi in four days and it wasn’t a goodbye but more of a see you later. When the boys found out that we were coming back they asked us where we were staying and when we replied that we had no idea Asri turned around with the utmost confidence and told us to not worry… he would find us so we could be reunited. Four long days later we were back in Shushi and while lined up to go inside the hotel Arpa and I spotted Mihran at the same exact time. Now the positions were switched, we were the campers and we had to listen to our khmpabeds (leaders). Mihran ran up and we started all excitedly talking about how we couldn’t believe that we were in Artsakh for less than one hour and already found each other… it was fate! As it turned out Mihran, who is fifteen years old, began working at the hotel three weeks before we stayed there. Mihran took us around the hotel and introduced us to his co-workers and boss, as his teachers that he had talked about for the last week, and in turn we took Mihran around to our friends from Hamahaygagan and introduced him as a participant of Youth Corps’ camp in Shushi. That night we went to sleep, woke up and went travelling, not really expecting to see any of our Jambar kids except for Mihran… surprise surprise when we got to the hotel kids were waiting for us outside. Mihran even went and picked up Asri and Ara so Arpa could see them again, and of course sing for us. The four days we were in Shushi our kids would come visit us every single day and would always ask for people in our group that had not returned. Everyone at Hamahaygagan knew that if there were kids outside the hotel waiting for anybody to call Arpa and I because they were probably the Jambar kids. It was then that I felt the power of Youth Corps. It was at that moment when I was sitting outside the hotel with a few of the Jambar girls talking when I realized that I might have been there for two weeks, I might have only known the kids for such a short amount of time but they will never forget those two weeks and I know I won’t either because I learned so much from the yerekhek (children). Leaving Shushi the second time was bittersweet… we were happy we returned to Artsakh we got to see the kids outside the classroom and hear their thoughts on Jambar (all positive), but at the same time we knew we were nearing the end of the road to our trip in Armenia.
When I got home I had gotten sick on the airplane and Verginie said it best… it was because I was missing my lands, Hayrenikis garoduh, that I got sick. I am counting down the months, days, hours, until next summer when I can return to Armenia and be back on my lands because no matter what, in the end it is mine and yours and we need to take care of it, nurture it, and learn from the people there.
Preparing a visit to Armenian cities like Gyumri and Shushi oftentimes requires a reevaluation of the standards of female modesty set in the United States. Our leaders were careful to instruct and remind the women, who comprised the majority of the group, not to smoke in public, not to drink profusely in public, never to walk without male supervision, and in general not to be revealing in either clothing or behavior. While this task might seem conservative, sexist, or daunting at first, many of the rewards prove to be well worth the temporary adjustment of our social mores.
When walking through a construction site inhabited by men, you could see their conversational approach vary drastically according to their perception of our, and I mean us girls, humility. Should a woman make prolonged eye contact, or seem too eager in small talk, these men might take advantage of the opportunity to tease and privately mock the passersby. While this playful banter might be the norm in Los Angeles, I sensed it to be a unique opportunity for the workers to verbally “roughhouse” a few females, as they took great enjoyment out of it. However, should a woman greet them mildly with her eyes lowered, they would automatically revert to a more respectful attitude. In that case, you might even hear, “Haziv, mi hat hamest axchik” or “At last, a humble woman,” behind your back after you passed. I realized that the diasporan women had to try extra hard to break down stereotypes marking us as immodest or, at worst, loose.
Take another example. A male friend and I called a taxi to take us from Yerevan to Broshian, about a 15 minute drive. He sat in front, and I took the backseat. He called the shots, i sat quietly behind. Within the first few minutes, they had a great conversation going where the taxi driver shared stories of his past, his life, even of his deceased children whose picture he offered to my friend. By the end of the trip, they were nearly billiards partners, while I was the passenger who offered him a piece of xachapuri on the way. However, this custom filled me with neither bitterness nor anger, and I instead enjoyed watching the male camaraderie unfold in front of me. I was still as much a part of the experience, just in my own, feminine way.
I returned to America feeling more like a woman. Sometimes we tend to misjudge our more-conservative countrymen and countrywomen as stuck in the past, or brush off their lifestyles as completely undesirable. Yet traveling to Armenia, accepting and adjusting to their standards, teaches you not to be blind to the merits of moderate living. It isn’t so much that you, a woman, are outcast, but that you are appreciated with a greater femininity than you are in the United States. Men open doors for you, they pay the taxi fare, they, too, fit the classic roles of chivalry and courtship we seem to have forgotten long ago in this liberal age. This does not mean, either, that women must sacrifice their personality and leave it behind for a few weeks in order to gain respect. No. Finding a common ground between two extremes of social modesty and social freedom, engaging in conversations around these issues, will actually prove a great advantage for the Armenian community at large, both inside and outside the homeland.
About two months ago, I left the United States for what eventually became the best six-week experience of my life. I have participated in service trips in the past, but never before abroad, let alone my homeland. This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Armenia. Twenty-four Americans, one Canadian, six weeks, three countries, four cities and over 500 children. I was very nervous beginning this trip for a few reasons: six weeks is a long time away from home, I have never been to Armenia, and I am unable to speak the language. The amount I learned, the memories I made, and the friendships I formed are things I will cherish and remember forever.
On every trip, I feel that there are some moments that affect you the most. Negative, or positive, they are the moments you will always remember. On the last day at Camp Gyumri, we began with what had become our daily routine. The twelve of us counselors and the campers walked from Digin Liliq’s house to camp. We were upset to be leaving a place we had all come to love so much. When the day began, the kids were wild, just as they always were. We brought them inside and sat them down for their last educational. The group seemed to be somewhat quieter and easier to control that day and it wasn’t until the three musketeers walked in, abrupt as ever, that we realized why. These three boys were constantly rowdy, they would never stop talking, and they would laugh at you if you tried to punish them. You could see the anger rising in half of our faces, as these boys walked in with shopping bags in their hands and big smiles on their faces. We assumed they were up to no good. Before we had the opportunity to negotiate their punishment, the boys revealed the reason for their lateness. After gathering what little money they had, the boys had purchased each female counselor a necklace or bracelet, and each male counselor a cross necklace (glow in the dark, mind you). The feeling that this gave us was indescribable. Three campers, who were troublemakers every second of every day, found a way to show their true appreciation for all that we had done. Later that day, the parents of these campers gathered in the foyer of the school and watched their children compete in song competition. As I looked at all of their faces, from campers, to counselors, to parents, they were smiling so wide and it was so great to see how happy everyone was. The last group sang, “Don’t stop believing,” giving everyone the chills. They stood there and sang the song, loud and proud. The day ended with numerous pictures, laughs, and tears from a number of campers. After camp ended we took any of theremaining food from that day to a nearby domik. Domiks are tin house that were built after the earthquake with the intention of being used for temporary housing. People still live in them today. This particular domik was the house of one of our campers, Khachig. His mother and grandmother invited the nine of us into their home, which probably wasn’t even half the size of most of our family rooms. As I looked around the room, I noticed a set of beautiful teacups that seemed quite out of place, in comparison to the rest of the house. These were obviously the few items they were able to salvage from the earthquake. Without question, the mother and grandmother of the house began making us soorj and tea and telling us about her past. As I sat there and had everything translated to me, I couldn’t help but wonder how people could be living in such poverty and yet still be so full of life. This family of five, who were living in such tight quarters, was so welcoming and giving of the little belongings they had. She offered us candies and chocolates as well, which she later mentioned were bought using her minimal earnings that week. I couldn’t take my eyes off this house as we walked back to Digin Liliq’s.
These families can’t afford to own a soccer ball, or have running water at all hours of the day, or even heat for the winter months, but throughout it all, they appreciate every little thing that they do have. Some areas are still living in fear and unsure of what the next day will bring them. They also live each day with the most positive of attitudes and love for their land. One deghatsi (local person) from Stepanakert that most of us became very close to, Arevik Sargsyan, said one night: “May the best of today, be the ‘eh’ of tomorrow.” This is the attitude I have come to know and appreciate in the six weeks I was living in Armenia. They face each day in hopes of one day living the way they did years ago. Despite their present difficulty, they remember and work to restore the Armenia they will always love. Don’t stop believing, Armenia.