Arayik Narinyan’s recollections of the Nagorno-Karabakh war are intertwined with his childhood. “I was a little kid, and we used to hide in the cellar when we heard shelling or bombing. I even remember how the Azeri snipers bombarded the school building,” he says stressing the lack of doctors they had back then.

Even though he was still a schoolboy at the time, this is one of the reasons that Arayik developed a passion for medicine and for helping his compatriots in particular.

Arayik, 32, comes from the town of Berd, Tavush Province which was included in FAR’s long-term development program that aims at providing assistance to Berd and 16 rural communities within the framework of the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP). Besides economic, educational, scientific, and social assistance, FAR has also allocated scholarships for empowering doctors and strengthening the human resources in the region’s medical care system.

In 2014, FAR conducted research to identify the needs of doctors and healthcare specialists in Berd and the surrounding communities with the goal of providing scholarships to students and graduates who wished to specialize during their clinical residency. Arayik Narinyan was one such scholarship recipient and he is now in the fourth year of his residency.

After secondary school, Arayik applied to the University of Traditional Medicine of Armenia and studied General Medicine for seven years. In 2014, within the scope of FAR’s BCPP, Arayik received a scholarship to embark on a residency in otolaryngology at the Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU). Currently, he is completing his practical training at the Otolaryngology Department of “Surb Astvatsamayr” Medical Center.

“My supervisors here are very supportive; I can reach out to them anytime I need guidance or recommendations,” says Arayik. “My working day usually kicks off by visiting patients, conducting medical researches, and examining the patients’ medical cards. So far, I have been indirectly involved in surgeries, however once I’m done with my residency and I return to Berd, I’ll lead the hospital’s Otolaryngology Department.”

Although the Berd hospital is large enough to serve the neighboring communities, it doesn’t have competent specialists and doctors, and those from Yerevan are reluctant to move to this cross-border area. “We don’t have an anesthesiologist, and there is a lack of surgeons. Many young specialists prefer working in the capital. We have one otolaryngologist in the hospital, which often raises concerns. Once I’m done with my residency here I’ll be heading to Berd,” remarks Arayik thus highlighting the importance of getting involved in FAR’s BCPP Scholarship program. “FAR’s support was a great relief… I would have never been able to continue my education if FAR hadn’t lent a hand.”