Christine, a mother of four, and her sister Narine arrived in Yerevan from a rural community in Nagorno-Karabakh. They fled their village on the fourth day of the armed conflict.
“It all started on the morning of 27 September. I had been canning ‘compot’ the whole night and was very tired in the morning when I heard the sounds of the bombs. First, I thought it was thunder, but the sky was not cloudy and it was continuously repeating,” Christine remembers.
“My husband told me not to worry; he went out to meet our neighbours in the centre of the village. An hour later he came home and told me that he is going to the frontline as a volunteer, and I need to take care of the children” she continues.
“I had little time to tell him anything because the children were awake and frightened of the sounds, and I was to calm them.”
That day, the sound of the bombs was heard throughout the day and night. “I was telling my children that these are fireworks, someone is celebrating a big birthday.”
But her children could not fall asleep with the horrifying sounds ringing in their ears. “The sky was all red during the night, and every second we were expecting a bomb to fall right onto our heads.”
Sheltering from the bombing
The next night, Christine took her four children to her sister Narine’s house to hide in a shelter.
“We are used to the occasional sounds of bombs as we lived through the war in the early 90s and in April 2016. But this time the bombing was immense, it wouldn’t stop for 24 hours,” Narine explains.
For the next two days, the family hid in the shelter. “The most frightening sound for me was the sound of the drone flying right above our house, and the sound of it being destroyed. I was thinking that the drone would drop a bomb on us sooner or later,” remembers 12-year-old Mariam, .
Forced to abandon their homes
On the 30 September, the village mayor urged the sisters to take their children and leave, as it was no longer safe for them.
“It was a long drive on the night in a bus full of families with children like us. We were telling our children that we are going to an amazing tour to Yerevan, to have a tasty ice-cream there and that their daddies will join later,” Christine adds.
Praying for an end to the conflict
Today the big family is hosted in a hotel in a Yerevan suburb. Thanks to charities, including World Vision, and local authorities, they have food, clothes, and hygiene items.
“We are so thankful to everyone hosting us here, but we have our home, and we want to go home,” Christine says.
“We earn enough as teachers to provide a dignified life for our children. But with this war, we don’t know what will come next, and when we will be able to go back home,” Narine adds.
They’re both praying that the fighting ends and their loved ones come home. “All I pray for is peace. I have four children and I do not know whether my husband is alive or not. I pray to God to bring peace to our land. I pray that this war soon ends and we are able to go back home.”