Friday, 15 November

The Harutyunyan’s: Valiantly Fighting TB and Poverty

6 year-old Armineh wants to become a doctor when she grows up. When I ask why, she answers, "So I can treat sick people."

When asked who specifically, Armineh will tell you she wants to cure her father Henrik who five years ago contracted tuberculosis from a friend at work. He's received constant treatment for the debilitating disease.

The Harutyunyan family lives in the Getapnya village located in Armenia's Ararat Marz

When I sat down with 33 year-old Lusineh, she didn't know where to begin her story. Should she begin with Henrik's illness or the living conditions the family must put up with? Lusineh chose the former.

It turns out that Henrik, her 37 year-old husband, suffers from a drug-resistant strain of TB. He received treatment in the Abovyan TB dispensary and now must undergo an operation to treat the damaged portion of his lungs.

Henrik's doctor had mentioned the possibility of getting him accepted by a French-run program that would organized the surgery in Tbilisi. Unfortunately, the Masis district where the family resides is not included in the project.

Lusineh says the last time Henrik was hospitalized his chances of survival were 50/50.

"It looks like God was on our side," Lusineh says. "We strictly follow the diet and the physician's directives."

She claims that the doctors treated her husband incorrectly at first and this is the reason for the surgery. Lusineh says that the dispensary didn't give her the necessary antibiotics.

Henrik used to repair cars but such work is out of the question for a man in his condition.

The family miraculously gets by on 24,000 AMD per month.

When Henrik applied for physical disability status, the civil servants demanded a magharich (gratuity/gift) for processing the request. Since the family couldn't afford such an expense, Henrik doesn't get a disability pension. The man also suffers from psoriasis of the legs.

"My husband surely qualifies as having a disability, but everywhere you go they want a bribe or favor," Lusineh says angrily.

Henrik's fingers and toes are not starting to atrophy and doctors have run a series of tests to get to the cause. Lusineh was also operated on just a month ago and is still recuperating.

With all these health issues facing the Harutyunyan family, it comes as no surprise that they cannot pay the monthly 8,000 AMD tuition to get 3 year-old Gurgen, their youngest, enrolled in the village kindergarten.

The Harutyunyan's had to move out of the family house to afford Henrik some peace and quiet. 13 people lived in that abode. With their two kids in tow, they moved into a metal hut located on some land owned by an in-law.

When I got there, the place was boiling hot even though it was 8pm. I was having trouble breathing despite a noisy AC that was valiantly attempting to cool the interior.

It's just as bad in the winter when the temps inside hover just above freezing. Then there's the leaky roof to contend with.

Despite all these problems, Lusineh has succeeded in keeping the place clean and comfy. But they have no shower facilities and a lone TV is the only fixture of the modern age.

Their only hope is the 40 square meter bean field outside. The crop must supply them with the money to pay off Lusineh's 250,000 AMD surgery bill.

But the bean crop has come down with some disease and is starting to rot on the vine.

"If it continues there will be no crop and no money coming in," says Lusineh, obviously concerned with such a gloomy prospect.

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Comments (7)
1. Hay_Axchik20:21 - 18 July, 2011
:((((((((((((( Astvac im inch anenq axr?????
2. Varaz Syuni (Amsterdam)03:23 - 19 July, 2011
Hay_Axchik - Hamadzayn em ko het. Comment CHgrel CHI linum. Bayts arden CHES imanum te hima inch gres.
3. esem12:21 - 19 July, 2011
Ay henc sa e Hayastani bnakchutyune, ev voch te Hyusisayin poghotayum aprogh u Abovyan poghoci xanutneric ogtvogh elitar pokaramasnutyune,,, um enk xabum????
4. Hay_Axchik18:38 - 19 July, 2011
Hetq es mardkanc gjuxi anuny, tan hascen kaseq? Es arcakurdics heto sax ynkerneris kxndrem, u tesnenq inchpes karox enq ognel.... Isk inchqan e virahatman hamar pahanjvox gumary??? Isk ete mi hashvehamar bacen u ognenq ov inchqan karox e???
5. Hay_Axchik18:44 - 19 July, 2011
Es menak harust mardkanc vra em zarmanum.... u shat. Vonc en karoxanum, hangist aprel, erb koxknerin ajspisi yntaniqner kan, erexaner.... iranc mi orva xanutum caxsac gumarna e petq es mardkanc... vor aroxjanan, partqery tan u irenc balikneri glxic anpakas linen... Mtaceq mi qich lav aprox mardik, mtaceq... inch petqa taneq es kjanqic... Ogneq es mardkanc u astvac cez korhni...
6. Hratch Jabrayan20:25 - 20 July, 2011
Hello Hetq, My name is Hratch, I am the Director of Administration for Deno Gold Mining Company in Kapan, Armenia...please provide me with a phone number and contact person...I will pay Lusineh's surgery bill, I will also provide the family with the money to send their son to school... Thank you
7. Kristine13:41 - 2 August, 2011
Mr Hratch Jabrayan and dear readers, You can call and speak to Lusine. Here is her phone number: 098 072916. Thank you for the response.
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