Meet Astghik Ayvazyan, 83, FAR Byureghavan Soup Kitchen beneficiary. She was born in the village of Darbas in Lori Province, then married and moved to Byureghavan with her husband, a construction worker, when she was just 17. Since then, she hasn’t left this small industrial town that has struggled with economic depression since the fall of the Soviet Union.

A mother of nine—six sons and three daughters—Astghik was once awarded the “Mother-Heroine” medal by Soviet authorities, for which she also received some financial benefits When Astghik’s husband died in 1982, she needed to get a second factory job to support her family, something for which she had to seek special permission since it was forbidden by law to have two jobs at the time. Astghik then worked as a cleaner in a school and in a local shop until the end of the 1980s when political protests preceding the fall of the Soviet Union started in Armenia. After that, Astghik found herself unemployed.

She now lives with her daughter Rima, 55, and son Hamlet, 51, also both unemployed. The three survive on a monthly income of about $80, which largely consists of Astghik’s pension. Her other children help to support them whenever they can.

Life is not easy for Astghik, but she doesn’t complain. “Complaining is not a working tactic in life. I’ve never complained even though I’ve had a hard life. I brought up my nine children with difficulty but managed to do it with dignity. Now, I have 23 grandchildren and this is the real happiness for me, rather than any money or wealth,” she said.

Astghik attends the soup kitchen with her daughter Rima and son Hamlet, who live with her. Her youngest son, Eduard, who has four children and lives in Byureghavan, is also beneficiary in here with all his family. “This is a great support for us as it helps us to not spend much during the work week. We come here so we can actually have a proper meal. So, I want to say thank you to those who support this soup kitchen,” Astghik said.

The Byureghavan and Nor Hajn Soup Kitchens are sponsored by The Hacet Family Foundation and are operated by FAR.