Tigran Galstyan, 8, lives in Syunik, a mountainous region in southern Armenia that is covered with green forests and blessed with temperate summers.

After his father’s death a few years ago, Tigran’s mother Arshaluys started working night shifts at the local military hospital. Tigran now often spends his day with his grandma Armenuhi whom he kindly calls Uhi. Tigran and Uhi are very connected to each other; they dine, play, and do the housework together. Uhi takes care of him round the clock. The family lives in a small house that belongs to Tigran’s uncle who is now in Russia. The three of them barely survive on Arshaluys’s meager salary of around 100,000 AMD ($200) and Armenuhi’s monthly pension, which hardly amounts to 40,000 AMD ($83).

Tigran’s story is not unusual. We’ve encountered a number of families who live in extreme poverty with just one working member of the household. Often, these are the families who receive assistance from our Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP). After the Soviet collapse, industrial jobs in many small towns in Armenia dried up, leaving behind dramatic relics of industrial wastelands, like high unemployment rates and poor infrastructure. As such, CASP stipends often turn out to be a tremendous relief for these families. Sponsorship provides supplemental income, thus allowing them to be able to afford things like food, school supplies, or firewood.

Tigran was accepted into FAR’s CASP program in 2015. Since then, the family has saved his stipend with the hope of being about to soon buy an apartment in nearby Sisian so that they will have a place to live when Tigran’s uncle soon returns to Armenia.

“Tigran loves going to the field to pick herbs and greens that we cook and enjoy. Sometimes he helps me in the garden but his beloved activity is taking care of the chicks. He has a dozen; he feeds and waters them, and looks forward to taking the eggs. He enjoys the process much,” remarked Uhi. “Despite the hardships, we can survive thanks to our garden, our cow, and my daughter’s work. The only thing we are longing for right now is to buy an apartment.”

*Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) – is Women’s Guild Central Council of the Eastern Diocese sponsored project