years of loneliness had left Yevgenia Harutyunyan
with bitter feelings about a lack of human kindness.
"I couldn't imagine there is an organization
that will appear in my life to save and help me,
to serve me and to make me live longer,"
the pensioner now says, having had her hope renewed
by Mission Armenia, one of a few organizations
volunteering services for the elderly in Armenia.
Established in 1993, Mission Armenia (www.mission.am)
now has 21 canteens, serving hot meals to some
3,000 aged and needy.
"I was also visiting other charitable canteens
but there I was treated as a beggar," says
Emma Navasardyan. "We go to these charitable
canteens as if we visit a restaurant. We are served
with smiles. I haven't even mentioned cleanness
and freshness of the food."
But Mission Armenia offers more than just a meal.
"We feel like people here," says Zhenia
Vardanyan, who was a teacher for 50 years. "They
treat us as parents in this center. We do different
things such as singing and other things. They
even know our birthdays and make surprises and
celebrations for us."
Centers like the one Zhenia speaks of have been
created in Yerevan and eight regions of the country.
Nationwide, about 6,000 elderly and 10,000 refugees
find their daily needs through the centers. In
the Mission Armenia community centers, clients
also get legal advice, psychological counseling
and occasional site-seeing trips and packaged
food they can take back to their homes.
infirmed are also helped through special programs
that include healthcare, rehabilitation and nursing
services. About 3,000 elderly disabled receive
treatment in their homes.
Galina Semionova, an 83-year old World War II
veteran was alone in her damp home with little
more than photographs of her parents for companionship.
But one day she received a visitor who came from
"They treat me like a child," Galina
says. "They bathe me, heat my home and pay
bills for electricity. I haven't gotten married
but today I have children who do everything for
The elderly who are unable to leave their homes
are visited once a week by a doctor who examines
them and if necessary they are provided with medicines
free of charge. In critical cases doctors make
multiple visits per week.
Mission Armenia is supported by numerous sponsors,
including the British, Swiss and Americans.
While the elderly and alone are especially vulnerable,
the centers are also concerned for the needs of
the thousands of refugees who fled Azerbaijan
during the Karabakh war.
"Besides providing social, healthcare and
treatment services we also implement a large program
on refugee's development," says public relations
officer Narine Bezirganyan. "We think it
is very important to educate refugee children
and help them to obtain some professions."
The organization has established courses on drawing,
hairdressing, and computer skills.
Mission Armenia also sponsors a "Food for
Work" program for unemployed refugees.
"Due to the implementation of these programs
hundreds of families were able to establish the
source of their income" Bezirganyan says.
Lyudmila Tomasova has encountered many charitable
organizations during her 14 years in Armenia,
but says Mission Armenia has been most helpful.
"We are getting from them not only material
and psychological assistance, but we also have
gotten such a present we couldn't dream about,"
"It is hard to imagine the conditions we
were living in, and then suddenly a present -
the renovation of our apartment. After that we
started to live and appreciate our life."
The organization has opened a new page of life
for pensioner Pargev Arakelyan as well. He compares
this reality with a legend and presents his verses
to the organization and its founder Hripsime Kirakosyan.
Wondering lonely in numerous anxieties
Isolated, hopeless and feeble,
Thought it was an illusion,
When my door was knocked.
"Who is the stranger remembering me "?
"Perhaps you have the wrong address ?"
"No" was the insisting answer,
Just then I realized the light coming out from
The light directed to my house, and finally,
My emigrant peace was coming back to my home.