Starting over again in Armenia; Anahit’s* family finds professional support to carry on in Armenia after losing everything in Nagorno-Karabakh

Anahit and her five-member family have fled from Shushi Town of Nagorno-Karabakh on 3 November 2020, when the armed clashes were taking place close to the town.

“We had to run leaving everything, all our possessions behind. We have taken only some of our daily clothes, and necessary staff for the children. I have even forgotten my passport back in Shushi,” says Anahit.

Anahit, her daughter and three grandchildren have scattered from Etchmiadzin to Shirak Region of Armenia and ended up in one of the districts of the capital Yerevan.

When the psychologist Armine Khachatryan visited Anahit and her family, they were living in a garage, and the garage owner was urging them to leave the area. Anahit’s family wasn’t much aware of the existing support programmes for the arrivals from Nagorno-Karabagh, and had very limited resources to live with.

Soon, the family found a decent apartment in the same district which they were able to rent thanks to the state support programme.

Soon after arrival to Armenia Anahit’s eight-year-old granddaughter Karine started complaining of strong headaches and experiencing fears of noise.

“These problems started with my granddaughter Karine* during the war. We were hearing the sounds of bombs right next to our house. Now she is very scared. She wakes up at night screaming, and when asleep, I can hear her whining”, says Anahit.

Soon not only the psychologist Armine Khachatryan, but also social worker Zhanna Aleksanyan started working closely with both the family and the child.

“This family needed professional support both with re-establishment of Anahit’s passport, as well as for referral to existing support programmes designed for the arrivals of Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia. We also worked to register the younger children in the state preschool facilities,” says Zhanna.

“I work with Karine so that she can overcome her fears and start regularly attending school. We also closely work with Anahit to support her with preparation of school lessons. She has missed a lot, and needs a push to succeed”, says Armine.

“Now we plan to start over again in Armenia. I want my children to start attending schools and preschool regularly, I want my documents secured, so that we can apply to other state programmes. And I am very thankful to the girls [Armine Khachatryan and Zhanna Aleksanyan] for helping us through these difficult days,” says Anahit.

Armine and Shushan are employed by World Vision Armenia, as part of the "Protection Assistance and Monitoring of POC in Armenia" project funded by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The project intended to provide psychosocial assistance to displaced people that have arrived to Armenia during and after the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict that started 27 September, 2020.

Within the project

  1. social needs of about 17,300 people from Nagorno-Karabakh was assessed;
  2.  Case management for more than 3,000 people was conducted;
  3. More than 1,000 beneficiaries were referred to different professional services;
  4. Cooperation with more than 30 state, non-state bodies, public sector and church was established;
  5. 41 psychologists and social workers daily visit families from Nagorno-Karabakh in all regions of Armenia providing support:
  • to overcome difficult life situations,
  • to find a job,
  • to learn a new profession.

*The names of the beneficiaries are changed due to the sensitive nature of the story.