- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 December 5 , 2003 

Teenagers from Tragedy: Young people write about their Gyumri


GYUMRI -- Fifteen years have passed since the day December 7 was written in black on the republic's calendars, when three major cities of Armenia became ruins, when thousands of children became orphans.

But life goes on. Those mothers with names of lost children on their lips, with strength of spirit, gave birth to new children. A new generation was born - a post-earthquake generation, spared the horrifying disaster, but inheritors of the outcome.

Life in Gyumri is divided into two parts: before and after the earthquake. They recall "before" with delight. "After" brings tears, blotted only by the joy of children and the limitless Gyumretsi humor.


Children born after the earthquake are in their middle teens. They opened their eyes in ruins, and it is only from their parents' stories that they've heard of a once beautiful town. ArmeniaNow asked some of the "after" generation to write about their thoughts of everyday life in Gyumri, and of their dreams . . .

"When I was born, beautiful Gyumri with many buildings and houses of culture had turned into a pile of ruins," writes 14 year old Artur Ghoukasyan. "I spent my childhood in a beautiful park of Guymri which, however, was turned into a collection of metal domiks (the Russian word for 'temporary houses'), everything around would remind of the destructive earthquake."

Ani Hakobyan started her essay with an intriguing sentence: "I love my town very much, but when I was small, I did not." This sincere childish confession is followed by an explanation.

"...everything around would remind of the destructive earthquake."

"I didn't like it because it was ruins, we were playing where once children have died… but growing up I understood what great strength Gyumri has and what patriotism and humor the people of Gyumri are gifted with." Ani dreams to become a "world famous journalist, so that I tell the whole world what country Armenia is and what an amazing town my Gyumri is."

Fourteen year old Hayarpi Hovsepyan and her twin sister Sirarpi were born five months after the earthquake, in a hospital in a metal domik. They have lived in a domik and went to school in a domik.

"When we stepped into our new school made from stone, it seemed we were entering a paradise where kindness and care rule," writes Hayarpi.

A few years after the earthquake, tragedy again struck the family. The girls' father was killed in the Karabakh war in the battle for Shushi.

"I wish I could see our town standing."

"My mother doesn't work, I have no father, I almost don't remember him because we were small when he went to war. It's hard without a father, but I am proud that he died in the name of his nation and fatherland," writes Hayarpi and at the end of her essay she expresses her longed for dream. "I wish I could see our town standing, the situation of our people improved, working places created and the most important thing is that there never ever is a war."

Hayarpi's sister also dreams of peace; however she describes the post earthquake years during which her childhood has passed in more details.

"... those were not years one could envy."

"People remember the earthquake today and they always will, so many children were left without parents. Freezing cold, no electricity, no heating and no home. I was a little girl, but I still have these images in my eyes, believe me, those were not years one could envy…"

For Sirarpi life is not so interesting. "Home to school, school to home," she writes. "I dream of studying in Yerevan, and I wish I could be in the US…"

The line of her various dreams ends the following way, "Let love and peace rule the world, so that no one grows up without a father like me."

Thirteen year old Nona Asatryan's birth was a ray of sunlight in a house that perished in mourning.

"The earthquake took my two brothers' lives; my mother says if I were not born she would have gone mad," Nona writes. According to Nona her parents had great hopes for her brothers; however today she is the one who's obliged to make these hopes come true. "I will do my utmost not to disappoint my parents," she writes.

Nona does not wish to leave her town, she says she will just study and come back, "I want to become a good doctor, they are needed here so much. I love my town and I'll stay here."


According to Agnes
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