Through the eyes of the conflict-affected populationPublished: Jul 4, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of 2020 has left an indelible mark on the people who lived through this tragedy. These people suffered from displacement, casualties, and uncertainty. It would have been even worse without the support of individuals and organizations that stand with them. People in Need, with funding from European Union Humanitarian Aid together with consortium members, implements a project called ‘Relief and Early Recovery for People Affected by Conflict in Armenia’ (REACT). The project aims to meet the needs of more than 17,000 displaced people throughout Armenia.
Within the REACT project, PIN has produced a documentary series focusing on Armenia’s conflict-affected population. Filming was done by five people who received support through the project. They received phones to document their lives in Armenia after the conflict through their eyes. This series is called “This is us, our life in Armenia”. The heroes of our stories are different, yet their stories are almost the same.
Liana Movsisyan lives in Goris, in the Syunik region of Armenia. She is from the Qashatagh province in Nagorno-Karabakh. The sense of fear she felt during the war left her afraid and uncertain. Liana is an accountant by profession. However, after fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh, she decided to start something new. Liana took floral design classes at the Qristian flower shop, which operates within the REACT project. Liana was hired at the end of the course. Working with flowers brightens Liana’s life. It helps her overcome the negative impacts of the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Narine Grigoryan settled in the village of Ditak in Ararat region. She fled Nagorno-Karabakh with her children when the war broke out because it was unsafe to stay there. Narine and her family were happy with their life in Karabakh. Narine used to run her own business by selling fruits and vegetables grown in their orchard. The place where Narine’s family settled after the war was very uncomfortable, but they were happy to have a safe place to sleep. Unfortunately, after filming, Narine and her family had to move to yet another place to live, in similarly poor conditions, as their original safe place was a temporary shelter.
Artur Aleksanyan’s story is unique and motivational. He fled from the Qashatagh province when the war started and settled in Goris. The 26-year-old started working in construction to make money after displacement. While renovating a house, Artur was allowed to cook for himself. The householder tasted his food and was surprised. Artur had a knack for cooking. The house owner talked him into enrolling in the culinary classes offered by PIN. From the very first day of class, Artur stood out with his cooking skills. Consequently, he was offered a job as a chef at Mirhav, one of the most well-known restaurants in Goris. Now he is happy to earn his living, and he is hopeful that all the conflict-affected people will have the opportunity to adapt to the new living conditions.
Tsaghik Vardanyan is an example of a strong woman who remains optimistic despite all hardships. Tsaghik and her husband Spartak went to the elementary school together and got married at the age of 20. Their caring hearts help them stand strong together. Together with her family, Tsaghik escaped from Aghadzor to Armenia on foot—it was the only way to survive. Tsaghik and her family left their home of 22 years and now live in the village of Qaraglukh. Besides humanitarian aid, Tsaghik has participated vocational training courses such as cheesemaking and beekeeping. Tsaghik is willing to learn and work, and even though she lost everything she had, including her 38 cows in Karabakh, she is still hopeful about creating a new life in Armenia, starting with the four cows she owns now.
Since the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, PIN has been supporting vulnerable people who fled for safety in Armenia. The ‘REACT’ project, financially supported from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), offers humanitarian aid, child protection and development activities, career counselling, and vocational education. So far, more than 300 people have received vocational training courses in 5 regions of Armenia.