The war in Nagorno-Karabakh divided the family of ill Oksana

Published: Jan 8, 2024 Reading time: 4 minutes
The war in Nagorno-Karabakh divided the family of ill Oksana
© Foto: Shushanik Nersesyan

Oksana is the embodiment of resilience: she is a strong woman, a woman who never gives up, and a woman who cares for others. She shows us the house that now only exists in the dreams of her family. She shows us the pictures and weeps silently. 

During a routine medical check, Oksana discovered that she had malignant tumours of the thyroid gland, which demanded an urgent operation. This was in September 2022, when it was possible to travel from Nagorno-Karabakh to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Oksana's treatment was long-term, and she was forced to leave her children every month to continue the treatment in Yerevan. The children went to their grandparent's house for care.

Oksana's second surgery was scheduled for December 20, 2022. However, due to doctor's appointments, it was moved earlier. Oksana left Karabakh with her husband early in the morning of December 12; hours later, the road was blocked. "We thought, well, they will reopen it soon. We are used to turning off the gas and turning it on; the road will be the same," says Oksana.

After the treatment, Oksana did not lose hope of going home. She left Yerevan in the hope that the corridor would be opened, but ended up stranded in Tegh. Oksana waited for a long time in vain. With guidance from the Artsakh Information Center, she stayed in a hotels in Goris. Only months later, with great difficulty, did she return home to her children. Unfortunately, her tumour required more urgent intervention. After enduring much waiting, Oksana came to Yerevan once again; this time, the journey was one way.

The news of Azerbaijan's September offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh shocked Oksana and her husband once again; for several days, they were unable to contact the children. "My husband and I have not eaten anything for three days," says Oksana. Oksana's daughter was only able to contact her from the memorial complex of Aghjka [Girl's] fortress on Berdashen hill. The conversation with a 14-year-old girl was the most heartwarming reality and perhaps the most terrifying when her daughter said: 

"Mom, I wish I could clap and be next to you." 

During the phone call, Oksana learned that her father, who is with 2 of her children, did not have enough fuel to leave Karabakh and had to find fuel in Stepanakert.

Hours later, the news of the gas station explosion in Stepanakert brought a new wave of pain to the entire population. Oksana and her husband were paralysed; they had no information about her father and children, who we to find fuel in Stepanakert. Due to the explosion and lack of communication, the evacuation of all relatives stopped, and no one wanted to leave without having information about their relatives. Fortunately, Oksana's children and father were not at the gas station during the explosion. However, Oksana's father did not rush to leave because Oksana's uncle was injured in the explosion.

When Oksana and her husband met their younger children in Kornidzor, their positive emotions were mixed with the children's difficult mental experiences. Through the Goris municipality, Oksana learned about the halotherapy service provided for children with the help of People in Need. This service is accompanied by entertainment and games sessions provided by a child psychologist.

Everything is unfinished… dreams are unfinished

Oksana continues to swipe through the pictures on the phone, each of which has already become a priceless memory for everyone.

"We separated..." She says, showing a picture. "This friend of mine is in France; the other is in Etchmiadzin; she is in Hrazdan. We broke up. I have no relatives here in Goris. My relatives are also spread across different regions of Armenia. We stayed here because we had to wait here during the blockade, hoping for a quick transfer to Karabakh."

Oksana is the embodiment of a strong woman. She has persevered through these hardships. At the end of our conversation, she answered a phone call and said that she would arrive at the office soon. Subsequently, she has been trained to work as a social worker and now helps others in need.

The stories of displaced persons have no resistance limits. With the help of the European Union, we help people in difficult life conditions.

With the support of the Armenian delegation of the European Union, PIN, within the framework of the "Support of immediate needs of the crisis-affected population in Armenia" project, provided hygiene kits to over 1,000 families in the Syunik region during October 2023.
Autor: Shushanik Nersesyan

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