Flora Yesayan is 68 years old. She is the sole caretaker of her three grandchildren, 11-year-old Narek, 17-year-old Nune, and 20-year-old Zina. Flora can’t tell the story of her family without tears that she tries to hide from young Narek. Her son died in a car crash five years ago. They then lost the children’s mother to cancer a year and a half ago. Now, the family tries to make the best of it where they live in the tiny village of Tavush, in the Berd Region.

Zina studies psychology at Yerevan State Pedagogical Institute. Nune is working on trying to finish high school with good grades and Narek is in the 6th grade. While he loves math, he hasn’t yet chosen his future specialization. This year, Narek was chosen to be a recipient of the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program‘s (CASP) stipend. The program provides annual financial assistance through stipends to orphans and children of single mothers in Armenia and Javakhk, Georgia, until they turn 18. FAR is responsible for the distribution of scholarships in Shirak, Tavush, and Syunik provinces. This fall, FAR has distributed funds to 428 children.

Narek, like every other child of his age, loves playing and spending time with his friends. “We play football, visit each other’s homes, and play computer games. My closest friend is Mkhitar. All my friends are boys because all my female classmates live far from us. There are nine girls and six boys in the class,” said Narek.

Narek’s life is busy. He helps his grandmother grow vegetables and fruits in their garden. They consume part of the harvest during summer and preserve the rest for winter. He is also fond of making model airplanes, which he learned how to do on the Internet at school. “I also love drawing; two times a week I go to the regional center in Berd to take drawing classes at the Fine Arts School. Another two days a week I attend drawing classes at my school,” Narek said. Such classes are offered for free to children without parents and his teachers think his art is beautiful and impressive. His works are often shown at different events and exhibitions in Berd.

Narek also loves bananas. He even tries to grow bananas in the garden, but his tree never yields fruit since the climate isn’t warm enough.

The family lives in their own house. While it is old and in need of repair it is still theirs and they does everything they can to keep it in order. They have water in the house, and natural gas that they use to cook. For heating, they use firewood.

The grandmother Flora mentioned that while it is difficult, they are able to make ends meet. The state pension that the children receive ($190 a month for all of them) is hardly enough to run the household and support Zina in Yerevan. And Flora’s pension is just $90.

“I am very thankful to CASP. I am saving the stipend to accumulate enough to renovate the roof. I hope to do that next year,” Flora said.

Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) is sponsored by the Women’s Guild Central Council of the Eastern Diocese.