Cute and bubbly, with brown eyes and beaming smile, seven-year-old Svetlana keeps herself active all day long while her mother, Tehmina, 29, works tirelessly to make ends meet. They live in a small dilapidated house in the village of Karahunj, located in the heights of the Goris-Kapan roadway.

Svetlana Hayrumyan became a beneficiary of FAR’s Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP)* two years ago, which means that she will receive a stipend from her U.S. benefactors until she turns 18. The program aims to promote child poverty reduction in Armenia through the provision of financial support directed to the betterment of the socioeconomic situation of vulnerable families in Armenia and Javakhk (Georgia).

“Svetlana is very energetic. She likes dancing, and she is a good student. However, she isn’t stubborn, and doesn’t have many demands,” proudly remarks Tehmina, showing her unwavering love towards her daughter.

To satisfy Svetlana’s tiny whim, her grandfather Vanya has bought a bicycle for her. Her new mode of transport has now made Svetlana aware of the poor condition of the village streets that haven’t been renovated for ages. “Mommy, I’ll be careful when riding my bicycle, promise, promise,” Svetlana smiles while jumping up and down.

Tehmina has had many sudden upheavals in her life. Her husband, Sargis Hayrumyan, passed away six years ago, and she had to take one-year-old Svetlana and leave her in-laws’ house, as she couldn’t bare her tense relationship with Sargis’s parents. The mother and daughter found peace in Tehmina’s parents’ house built in 1850. The village was established in 1831, and you can hardly find newly built houses there. Karahunj is known for its tiny single-story houses. The streets are very narrow – with big holes – and it’s rather difficult to drive or cycle there.

Mrs. Arevik [Tehmina’s mother] and Mr. Vanya do their best so that Tehmina and Svetlana can get back on their feet. Tehmina juggles several jobs to earn a living. She works at the neighbors’ house, and does seasonal work, like growing vegetables, on her parents’ small land, which earns her a total of 2000 AMD ($4) per day, or about 40,000 AMD ($83) a month. With her father’s disability pension of 28,000AMD ($54) and her mother’s salary of 30,000 AMD ($55), they can barely get by.

At the moment, the family isn’t able to afford basic furniture that would enable Svetlana to do her homework at a comfortable desk. She has to do her work while kneeling over a short coffee table. However, despite the sparse furnishings, the family is always happy to host guests and family friends.

Tehmina shares that she is deeply appreciative of the CASP stipend. She will spend the money on clothes and school essentials so that Svetlana can be dressed in her finest when she enters second grade in the fall. “The rest will go to winter firewood,” she adds with a glimmer in her eyes. ”It’s very cold here.”

*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).