Humans of Artsakh: 11-Year Old Boy Longs for Home
02/05/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Artik sits next to his family on a couch as a journalist from Armenia’s 1st TV Public Broadcast asks the question “What was there that is missing here?” She is asking about his home in Hadrut, which was illegally captured by Azerbaijan in a broken ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). His home had become a war zone, and the tears immediately shed by Artik following this question captures the pain felt by those targeted by genocide for no other reason than that they are Armenian Christian. The video of this interview can be viewed here.
The war in Nagorno-Karabakh began this past September and displaces thousands of families during that forty-four-day period. Artik’s family were one of those impacted by Azeri-Turkish aggression. His mother, Susie Gharayan, was a teacher in Hadrut’s local village school. But now, the whole family lives in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Her husband, two kids, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law have all lived together for the past few months.
Susie’s eldest sons were awoken on the morning of September 27th and from their window saw fires and smoke. “I immediately realized the Azeri started the war”, said Suzy to the journalist of the Armenian 1st TV Public Broadcast.
Her husband, who used to serve in military as a contractor, called her from the frontline. He asked her to take kids and leave the village as fast as possible without panicking. He assured her that everything was going to be all right.
Susie’s neighbor helped her and the kids move to another village, along with him and his 8 family members, by one small car. The following day they arrived in Yerevan.“We didn’t know where to go in a big and strange city, but there are always good people around who help,” says Susie.
Susie makes delicious bakhlava (sweets with honey and walnuts) on daily basis and lists them for sale. Greta Ghasumyan, Susie’s sister-in-law, also used to be a teacher in Artsakh. But now Greta helps her around the house and with the kids. Their husbands drive a taxi in throughout the city. Their mother-in-law bakes and sells special Artsakh bread. This is how they must now make their daily living. “We cannot just sit and wait for someone to help,” Susie says.
Meanwhile, Susie is taking private manicure courses in the hopes of finding a new job in the future. But she often dreams of returning home where she used to teach Armenian grammar and literature to elementary pupils.
“When we found out that our village was gone, I was crying silently in the bedroom, and the kids were crying in the other room. Currently a lot of people are returning to Artsakh, mainly to the capital of Stepanakert, but there are psychological difficulties that have not yet been overcome. It’s very hard emotionally to get to Artsakh territory and knowing you are just a little further away from your village and home where you are not allowed to go because it’s not yours anymore. It belongs to the enemy.”
The family’s six kids are now safe in new place, but they do seem not very happy. They burst into tears often. They are missing home, their friends, playing, the village itself…
12-year-old Garnik, Susie’s eldest son, has not yet adapted to the new school. He dreams to go back one day. Artik, the youngest son can’t explain by words what he misses, but life is not the same anymore.
The children didn’t write any wish-letter to Santa Claus for Christmas this year: the only dream they all have is to return home.