Gevork and Hovig have just been out to deliver wood to what they call “the pit in Chalbakh”. Chalbakh is an area of Yerevan where apparently you drive out of the town and down into a sort of pit in which live the poorest of the poor in sheds and containers.
Rousanne and her daughter Ellen are both of them mentally ill. Ellen has enormous eyes that look like she has severe thyroid problems, but aside from that she is like a child in an adult’s body. They are the third sparrow of the New Testament – thrown in as extra, valueless in the eyes of society. They live on the edge of nowhere. There is no running water for miles, Rousanne must go and find clean water and bring a bucket full for their use every morning. They cook the food we give them in their food parcel on a gas stove using bottled gas. Sometimes they have electricity, sometimes not. The ill mother and daughter live in a metal container that a Christian brother brought for them and put of the land donated by another Christian family.
AM give them monthly food parcels, clothes and shoes and bedding, and also winter fuel throughout the cold months. Their metal container is like a freezer during the winter and like an oven during the summer. The area is full of snakes, scorpions and poisonous spiders.
For these sorts of families (of which there are many many) the war and refugee situation was not the start of their worries. Already their situation was dire, they cannot afford anything they need. However the escalating prices following the war have made their lives more unaffordable than ever before.
We must not forget these families that depend on us. Ellen is very mentally ill, she cannot function and survive without her mother. Yet she has learnt to recognise our faces and when she walks into the office will come and stand by my desk and smile silently at me – occasionally giving my hair or my jumper a stroke. I say “How are you today Ellen?” and she smiles and nods at me. Oh may the love of God permeate their hearts and soften the hard blow of poverty, loneliness, illness and neglect in their lives.