Friday, 06 December

Living in Limbo: Residents of the Loukashin Dormitory

Fifty families live in a dormitory located in the Armavir village of Loukashin.

It was built in the tail end of the Soviet period and was designed to house students at the local school.

Residents are mostly refugees from the Artsakh War years and destitute families.  They live at the dorm for free.

35 year-old Zarineh Grigoryan was nine in 1988 when the family relocated to Armenia and was allocated a room in the Loukashin dorm. She’s lived here since and now raises four children. All go to the local village school. 15 year-old Levon is the eldest, and 10 year-old Astghik, the youngest. The family makes due on 45,000 dram ($95) monthly derived from a state allowance and private work.

Zarineh says that conditions at the dorm are bad. There is one toilet and shower per floor. She has a small plot of land near the dorm where she grows some vegetables. Water is scarce in the summer.

“To cultivate the land one needs money and manpower, and especially water,” Zarineh says.

Her main concern is that the children grow up and become good individuals, good professionals. 14 year-old Aleksan wants to become an attorney. Levon wants to become a wrestler, Astghik, a dancer, and Hovhannes still hasn’t decided. But there are no hobby groups in the village and no sports related opportunities.

The Khalafyan family also found refuge at the Loukashin dorm in the early 1990s. 63 year-old Anatoly Khalafyan has an education but doesn’t work. He receives an 18,000 dram ($38) monthly allowance. His wife Lilia takes care of their two school age children. Lian, the girl, suffers from a tonsil ailment and doctors say she needs an 180,000 dram operation.

“We don’t have that kind of money. We have to burn clothes and shoes in the winter just to keep the kids warm,” Lilia says, hoping that those who can will assist them.

“We remained refugees. We left everything behind and came to Armenia thinking we’d live well in the homeland, that we’d have a home and work. It hasn’t happened,” says Lilia.

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