Behind Sarkis Emirkhanian lay all the tools and equipment needed to repair a broken-down bus—a diagnostic device, cooling liquid, flat wrenches, and drills—each of them purchased with the help of FAR’s Small Business Assistance Program (SBA). The program, which is designed to assist Syrian-Armenians who have fled their war-torn country for Armenia over the past five years, enabled Sarkis to expand his own growing enterprise that he opened in Yerevan last year.

Sarkis was young when he started a bus repair business with his father in Aleppo, which they ran for years. Once the war erupted, however, Sarkis sent his wife Maral and three of his children to Armenia with the hope that things would soon get better and they would reunite again in Syria.

“Problems often escape our notice until they become critical,” he said. “The critical moment came when I was working in my garage with my son, Garo. We heard bombshells nearby and decided to leave everything and go home. Suddenly, another bomb blasted and I don’t remember anything afterwards,” recalled Sarkis, as he revealed the scars from the blast on his feet. Sarkis underwent a couple of surgeries in Aleppo; he has one more scheduled in Yerevan.

It was the last straw, he said. Sarkis packed his family’s things and headed to Armenia. That was a year ago. Now, he rents an apartment where he lives with Maral and their children Harut, 26, and twins Karen and Caroline, 23. “The war has destroyed the country, leading to mass immigration, but I’m happy to be here now. There is no way back to Aleppo. My two other kids, Garo and Lusik, the [other] twins, are still in Aleppo. Garo has military documentation issues, but I hope to bring them here soon,” said Sarkis.

Today, the “master” from Aleppo and his business known as Varpet Sarkis is in great demand in Yerevan. “We have a lot of car electricians in Armenia, but very few, or almost no, bus electricians,” said the 59-year-old. His business services clients with electrical and air conditioning repair and installation services. Thanks to his recent purchase through SBA, he can take on even more customers.

“I love my job and can make my living here. Thank God, I have my own office and equipment now, and my business is growing,” he said.