10-year-old twins Rafael and Samvel Jinisyan live in Javakhk’s Gumburdo community in Georgia. They are both recipients of FAR’s Children of Armenia Sponsorship (CASP)* program. Together with sister Margarit, 11, do their best to help their mother Lusine, 39, with the household. In their free time, Rafael and Samvel used to attend boxing classes at the local club – until it was closed down. Instead, they now play football with the community peers.

In addition to their physical training, the brothers also enjoy training their minds. They are both in 4th grade and excel at many subjects. “I like math. It’s like playing around with numbers and definitions,” proudly remarked Samvel during our recent home visit with, adding that he is also fond of chess. The brothers play chess every evening with their grandfather and chess mentor, Lems, 78, a retired mailman. This fact inspired Father Tatev Marukyan, who had joined us for the home visit, to play a match with Samvel right then and there.

Samvel rushed out of the living room to bring the chess board. In the meantime, Margarit brought us the family album to show their photos. Through the album’s torn pages we could clearly discern the happiness in the siblings’ eyes that was suddenly interrupted by the death of their father, Manvel. He died of cancer in 2008.

About an hour into an intense match, Fr. Tatev began squirming as his looming defeat slowly dawned on him. 20 more minutes of fierce competition between Samvel and Fr. Tatev drew forth sweat beads on the latter’s forehead. Finally, the chess match was over, and Samvel had triumphantly won.

Fr. Tatev was impressed with the siblings’ intelligence and well-roundedness at such a young age. We hope that CASP’s support will allow happiness to permanently return to the their eyes. We also hope that the siblings can continue to focus on their studies and passions, knowing that their basic needs like food, clothes, and school supplies, are taken care of.

*The Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) is a FAR project sponsored by the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).