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New life in a new place from a new page… only memories are suffocating

Vanya Mesriye Karajyan is one of thousands Syrian-Armenians who lost their house in Aleppo because of conflict. From the first days of the war, she followed her husband and first went to Lebanon and then moved to Armenia.


We have lived in Lebanon for over two years and in February of last year, my husband came to historical homeland and I came in May. We used to live in Abovyan city but it is two months since we have come to Yerevan, – told Ms. Vanya. She says that at first the city was strange, everything was new and the most important thing – the lifestyle was different. In addition to this, memories from Aleppo were strangling, even frustrating at times, but now we can say that we have got accustomed and life is going on.


“Before my arrival, my husband had already applied to the Ministry of Diaspora, UNHCR Office in Armenia, Red Cross and other organizations dealing with the problems of families displaced from Syria. They helped us only with a rent of a few months; sponsored by UNHCR they provided a sewing machine so that I could work. They also supported me to attend sewing course. Within the program “family friend” of “CASA” fund a volunteer supported us with practical advices, and we were getting answers to many questions.


It should be mentioned UN Office in Armenia / UNHCR High Commissioner initiated that program “family friend” for Refugees/ due to USA financial support. The project is implemented by “CASA” Swiss Humanitarian Fund, and aims to support families displaced from Syria establishing friendly relations between them and local families.


Vanya is a sewing professional, and she works with traditional directions, you can meet embroidery elements of Van, Marash, Urfa. She says that she likes Armenian embroidery more than sewing. After moving from Abovyan she is temporarily not working as it is difficult to find people in a new place who will be interested in provided services. But it is very good that recently she had been offered a work at “Aleppo” patriotic organization, where she currently works. The organization distributes aids to needy families besides organizes round-table discussions with participation of Syrian-Armenians being a unique bridge between them.


“The organization has “dance center” and “Arevik” center for Syrian-Armenian children with disabilities. We had “Arevik” school in Aleppo, now we have established its small type and 6 children with disabilities attend it every day. The organization is really doing an important work”.


Seeing bitterness of the war and overcoming all difficulties the family, however, tries not to complain of moving to a new place and begin living from a new page. Moreover, they have always dreamed of living in Armenia, when they got married they had a desire to come here to live but it was continuously being postponed. Then life decided their next steps itself.


To our question, what she is dreaming of she said:  “I am dreaming of having my own parlor which will mainly focus on traditional embroidery but not only in the form of costumes.  I imagine tablecloths, hats, towels, and everything, which is possible to render with traditional patterns. In a word, everything that is connected with handmade is my dream.


However, today everyday concerns prevent from focusing on the art. In Ms. Vanya’s words, now Yerevan is not strange and people are kind and friendly, they have never had problems at that level, but there are problems with work, paying bills, having means of living and being mentally calm. It is constraining to some extent, but they are not going to leave Armenia as many of their friends did.


“No, we have never thought of leaving Armnenia. I do not think that there is something in foreign country, which Armenia does not have. Wherever we are, we should settle and start everything from a scratch, and we prefer doing it here. Armenia is our country and we feel comfortable here.


By the way, Vanya gets orders of handicraft souvenirs – paintings, pictures, etc. This is just her joy before having her own studio.


Lia Khojoyan


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