Settlement of Hope cottages bear little resemblance
to most Yerevan housing.
Recently 21 needy families enjoyed a house warming
in the newly constructed Settlement of Hope district
on the outskirts of Yerevan.
Eleven two-storey cottages have been built on
a stretch of deserted land in the Davitashen area
off Yerevan-Ashtarak highway. Each cottage was
settled with two families who previously lived
in unsanitary, wet, emergency shelters.
Among the new settlers is the Khachatryan family
that includes 10 children. Their new cottage is
more than a dream.
"We didn't even dream about a cottage like
this," says hostess of the new house, 40
year old Anahit, mother of nine boys and one girl
(the eldest is 19; the youngest is 18 months).
"During the last year we had been waiting
for this moment living in an apartment of an emergency
building that has collapsed this winter. Fortunately
it happened in our absence and we moved to another
Since June 17 the family settled in the newly
In 2001 Diaconia Charitable Fund founded by German-Armenian
Paruir Jambazian decided to create such a district
in Yerevan for improving housing conditions of
200 insecure and large families. The Yerevan municipality
donated 16 hectares of land, without any term
The project is expected to be finished in 2008,
at a cost of about $10 million. Completed, Settlement
of Hope will have four districts, five main streets,
100 two-storey cottages, a park, a church, a school,
a college, small gardens and a trade center.
It will be a district differing from all other
districts of Yerevan not only by its purpose,
but also in the number of children. Already there
are 130 children representing the 21 first-resident
According to Jambazian, the district got its
name as a reminder that life in Armenian is improving.
"Hope is very important," the 32-year
old benefactor says. "When you lose your
hope, life becomes senseless and you see everything
Until their move, hope was about all the Khachatryans
had. The father, 40-year-old Manvel, makes shoes,
but only on order. So the family exists primarily
on government assistance and by help from relatives.
Anahit says the family has many every day problems,
but housing was the biggest challenge.
From their existence in a building that was quite
literally collapsing, the family now lives in
a four-bedroom, two bathroom apartment. There
is also a 400 square meter plot of land next door
still a small house for a big family, but
. . .
On July 28, another Khachatryan family of the
district that has been there for one month celebrated
the birth of their 10th child. They named him
Paruir in honor of the president of the Fund.
"Our son is the first newborn of this new
district and he will be growing together with
the prosperity of the district," says his
father, 45 year old Vachagan, who is unemployed.
Before moving to Settlement of Hope Vachagan's
family shared an apartment with rats.
"The children had been going to bed with
horror for six years," Vachagan says. "They
were afraid a rat would bite them. All of us had
impatiently waited for a new apartment and we
couldn't imagine that such things could happen."
Now, their newborn sleeps calmly in his parents'
Construction of the district is financed by European
countries, mainly by Switzerland, Germany and
Holland, where the Diaconia Fund is functioning
"It is a project that requires big financial
expenses and we really want this project to serve
its purpose," says president of the Fund
Jambazian. "We want to change the mentality
of these families."
Potential residents are chosen by a special commission
which includes representatives of the municipality,
the district's head office, the Ministry of Social
Security and Diaconia. The Fund has the right
of the last word and makes the final decision.
"All families that reside today in the Settlement
of Hope had been in the worst conditions until
resettlement," says Jambazian.
He says he was amazed to see smiling children,
even in the worst living conditions possible,
during the selection process.
"Today they live in good conditions. We
see how they are tenderly playing with each other,"
says Jambazian. "Our goal is to teach them
that they must work and live and not just sit
and wait for aid from someone."
The most important task in the district is creation
"It is calculated that by the end of the
project approximately 200 jobs will have been
created in the administrative buildings of the
district and we want those jobs to be taken by
the residents of this district," says Jambazian.
. . the Hope house is a long way from the
Khachatryan's former home.
Each family signs a contract with the Fund after
moving to the new apartment. According to the
contract, the residents must cover all communal
expenses themselves. They have no rights to sell
or modify an apartment as it is a property of
the Fund. In addition, residents will be offered
jobs. If he or she refuses work three times, the
Fund has a right to cancel the contract.
"We have no thoughts of resettling someone
from here but it is not right if they will always
be waiting for help," Jambazian says. "We
want to cure them of that bad mentality. They
also must do something to change their life."
Currently, five more cottages are being constructed.
"By the time the children of the district
create their families and start supporting themselves
all alone, then it will mean that the project
had really come to our expectations and we really
helped these people," Jambazian says.
Thirteen year old Karine Muradyan is one of the
district's first residents. Upon her family's
move into their new cottage, she wrote a poem:
You are Settlement of Light, you are Settlement
You were full of stones surrounded with wonderful
And now you are constructed as a palace decorated
with beautiful constructions
You became marvelous like a blossoming rose at
dawn that amazes everyone.
You have been a dream for people for a long time
And there are good people in the world who make
people's wishes come true.
And the door is open here and an old dream of
poor people comes true here.