for the next potential parent . . .
When the door to their room opens the children
of Qanaqer-Zeitun orphanage look with anticipation,
as if any adult could be the one who has come
to take them home.
Two year old Vahan runs forward and warmly hugs
a woman who has come to visit, kissing her and
patting her face. One of the other children asks:
"Are you going to take him home?"
It is not often that the question is answered
From 1967 to 1999 this building was a kindergarten,
where children rested and played and at the end
of the day walked home with hands safely held
by mothers and fathers. But four years ago it
was converted into an orphanage, to serve the
growing need to care for Armenian children who
either were unwanted or were born into families
that could not afford them.
The orphanage became a home for 113 such children.
They are divided into groups according to age,
ranging from one to eight years. Here they are
fed and educated, surrounded by toys and kind
Each age group shares a room that is for living,
sleeping, playing. Bathrooms at the orphanage
have recently been repaired by a French benevolent
organization. When they pass age eight, the children
are sent to Zatik orphanage, which provides for
"It is extremely difficult to let children
dear to your heart go to another place, but it
is impossible to keep them here," says Knarik
Zakaryan, senior pedagogue. "Parents"
of this big family very often visit the children
that have left and never forget their birthdays.
The youngest resident, one-year old Taguhi, was
brought here only a week ago. This day she is
hugging her caretaker to keep warm, with her head
on the woman's lap.
Four-year old Julia is painting. She says the
image is her mother. "I know that my mommy
will not come after me," the little girl
says. "I will stay here. This is my home."
new boiler could more efficiently warm a
room full of babies .
The 34-year old building has not been repaired
since it was built. Still, the walls have been
thoughtfully decorated with pictures, art work
and dolls made by the children.
Qanaqer-Zeitun orphanage is not a perfect place,
but what place could be for children of such fates?
It becomes less suitable, though, when autumn
and winter arrive.
The rooms are insulated by putting plastic over
windows and electric heaters are brought in. Still,
though, the temperature in the 60 to 70-square
meter rooms does not go above 55 degrees (Farenheit).
The orphanage needs its own heating boiler. But
such an expensive item, approximately $22,000,
is not conceivable from the State budget. Annually
the state pays the orphanage $80,000, while it
costs more than $140,000 for it to operate.
"We are spending a tremendous amount of money
each year on the electric heating, and we still
suffer from the cold," says Greta Harutyunyan,
director of the orphanage.
According to initial calculations, a boiler would
quickly pay for itself, as it would replace the
need for expensive electric heaters, while providing
the temperature considered healthy for children.
And Harutyunyan says that if the orphanage could
save money on electric bills, it could improve
the quality of meals and clothing, and offer more
excursions for the children.
"Children deprived from the warmth of their
parents, more than anybody else need to be warm
and live in comfortable conditions, so that they
could forget the memory of being abandoned here
and dream of having a home," Zakaryan says.
For more information about Qanaqer-Zeitun
orphanage: Call (374 1) 25.15.86 or (374 1) 25.65.92.
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