Tears spill from the eyes of 31-year-old Marta Ghazaryan while she sits with her three kids in FAR’s Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen. The difficulties she has dealt with since her childhood have not broken her. Still, when she talks about her life her eyes begin to water.
“I got married when I was 19 but marriage didn’t make me happier. I lost my mother very early in life and had been living with my grandmother and my uncle’s family. I needed to work hard on their farm in Ararat. They would make me. They would exploit me, never compensating me properly,” Marta says with a cold voice that thinly veils her pain.
After marriage she found herself living with her husband in poverty and her struggle continued. Located in Armenia’s Kotayq Province, Nor Hajn is a former industrial town that today has few jobs available to its more than 10,000 residents. She and her husband are among the town’s unemployed. They receive about $55 a month as part of their state subsidy, which covers their rent. The additional $50 her husband brings in each month from collecting and selling bottles is not enough to cover the living expenses for the couple and their children Gayane, Arsen and Amalya.
“My husband doesn’t allow me or kids to help him since he finds his job of collecting bottles hard and emotionally difficult,” Marta says. “People help us by giving us clothes. I take them for my kids, for me, and for my husband. It is embarrassing to say but this is the way I’ve lived all my life, in other peoples’ clothing,” she says as another stream of tears runs down her cheek.
Marta and her family have been Nor Hajn Soup Kitchen beneficiaries ever since FAR reopened the kitchen in 2014 after being closed for two years due to lack of funding. They rely on the soup kitchen for their main meal each day.
“My kids are not very demanding and they eat whatever is available. The soup kitchen is a great help for my family. My kids are not anymore hungry. There were days when I didn’t have money to buy something to eat,” she says.
“Sometimes it is unbearable. When one has only had struggle in their life with no foreseeable end to it, as it has been for me, it is not easy to maintain hope for the future. My dream is to have a small, one-room apartment and to see my kids happy and not want for anything. My hope is to be granted at least one of my dreams during my life.”