Its been a regular busy day in the office. A bit busier than normal as our own team seem to be going through quite a hard time at the moment too (I’ll write the next blog about them). Gevork and Hovig had just left with a pickup full of wood to take to a widow lady, and Armine and I were answering the endless phonecalls when a woman walked in. My first impression was of a healthy looking, well-dressed woman who wasn’t in particular need of help. Oh my – first impressions can be so wrong. I invited Anahid to tell me her story. She started by telling me that she is very diabetic – her normal sugar levels are never lower than 18. She is losing the sight in one eye and already has lost feeling in her fingers and toes. This has happened, she told me, in the last few years since the war. Her husband, Roma, has had 6 heart stents fitted and is in a terrible state of health. She lives with her son, his wife and their two children 3 and 9.
I asked her why her health had suddenly deteriorated over the last few years. She answered “If you have time to listen to my story I would love to share it with someone.” Armine and I unplugged the phone and settled down to listen. Her husband, Roma, was a war hero in the 44 day war in 2020. He volunteered to repeatedly return over and over to the front line and bring out the wounded. He would go with a blanket wrapped round him like a sling and carry the wounded out. His wife, Anahid, would then wrap a fresh blanket round him, take the ill soldier into the base and then wash all the blood out of the blanket to reuse. She said “Do you know how much of your Armenian’s sons’ blood I have washed into the soil?” I was beginning to understand why her husband has needed six stents in the last year and she has acquired such diabetes.
But we were far from finished. Armine was gently crying as this lady told us of her five homes she had built and rented in Karabakh and how she was now reduced to poverty and begging. She said “One of my neighbours gave me this coat to wear, I’m so grateful, and the other neighbour gave me these boots,” As this diabetic lady showed us her feet we were horrified to see feet that had been pushed into boots several sizes too small, the zips wouldn’t do up. “I cannot buy new shoes” she said, “new shoes are worth 12 days worth of bread.” Armine got up and rushed down to our warehouse to find shoes for her. Meanwhile the lady continued her story. They had escaped from the Azeris attack wearing only the clothes they could wear. She had worn five layers of underwear and several tops all on top of each other. The neighbours had taken the family into their various cars and they had all escaped together. I asked why the escape had been so hasty. she said “The Azeris had already infiltrated our village. They had already killed my elderly mother. My brother had been killed in the bombing. We were terrified.”
I asked her if her son could work. Once again there was a sorrowful shake of the head. Her son had also been in the bombing and he has sustained much injury including loss of his fingers and serious PTSD. There were days that the family were hungry and other days where they ate only bread.
Since that awful escape the little three year old has become incontinent. Unable to afford nappies they put a nappy on the child only at night and if its not too wet they dry it under the sun and reuse it the next night. Oh, I’m so sorry to report such horrible things to you, my dear readers, but you need to know the truth and how horrible war is and how it doesn’t affect just nations but lives. Lives of innocent, lovely, kind people; lives of babies who are robbed of their innocence; lives of the elderly who want to die in peace. By this time, our pale Armine had come up with a beautiful pair of black lace up shoes and while Anahid cried over them and put them on her feet, Armine disappeared back down to the warehouse for children’s nappies. Anahid went home with food, shoes and nappies and the promise of more clothes and bedding as soon as we can.