The Mardanyans have never stopped wishing and waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel. The family shares a two-room house in the village of Paravaqar, very close to the Azeri border where cross-border gunfire is an everyday concern.
The three children Aren, 7, Rafael, 5, and Hayk, 4, have already been faced with more than their fair share of hardships. Having grown up in extreme poverty, they are used to sub-par housing conditions as all three used to share the same bed. The boys are painfully shy and lack the skills and outlets to socialize with others, such as through extracurricular activities.
Their mother, 28-year-old Haykuhi Papoyan, started crying when she first talked to social workers from the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) during their first meeting three years ago. She shared her shame and pain in not being able to arrange medical treatment for Aren who was suffering from kidney dysfunction. The children’s father Armen Madanyan, 33, didn’t say a word during the meeting, his eyes red with dust from helping his neighbors in construction, his face hopeless and desperate. He still works as a seasonal day laborer who struggles to support the family on his wages.
Their only other consistent income now is the state poverty stipend, which totals less than $100 a month. BCPP support was crucial and it has been effective. The family managed to improve their housing conditions and purchase beds for the children during the first and second years of the program with help from cash assistance provided through the program`s family stabilization component. The more recent purchase of a cow and heifer helps them to have a variety of milk, butter and cheese everyday. Plus, Haykuhi also manages to sell some of her homemade dairy products for a little extra income.
BCPP also helped the Mardanyans to solve Aren’s health issues with access to medical treatment. He was previously inactive but now that he is healthier he can participate in more school activities.
The Mardanyan parents have also benefited from BCPP’s various capacity building and community mobilization trainings on such topics like innovative parenting methods and styles. And now, although life is far from ideal, the program has helped the family to recover and move farther away from their desperate situation. BCPP has also elevated their energy so they may continue to push back against hardship.
“We are thankful for the support we received these three years. The support from FAR has allowed us to deal much more easily with our difficulties. The future for us and for our three boys now seems brighter than before,” said Haykuhi.