Nine-year-old Varsine Mkrtchyan dreams of becoming an artist like her dad who had a talent for painting. Although she can draw decently, she is still trying to build stronger skills through the painting classes that she’s attended for the past four years.

“Every painting that I do reminds me of my father. This way, I always feel him around me,” said Varsine.

Varsine’s father, Ara, used to work as a driver at Kapan Psychiatric Hospital. In 2011, he died in a car accident on his way from Kapan to Kajaran. He was 33.

Currently, Varsine lives in Sisian with her mother, Varya, 32, and her grandparents, Eliza and Albert.

Varya works as a stylist, working out of her house for the past six years. The family’s meager monthly income is $250, which includes the grandparent’s stipend and the social survivor benefit that Varsine has received ever since her father passed away.

To boost her family’s income, Varya also attends the Women’s Carpet Resource Center where she is paid to make rugs.

Varya’s parents farm in Sisian, where they cultivate potatoes, carrots, and cabbage for their own consumption.

Varsine is in the fifth grade and she does well in all subjects, however her favorite ones are mathematics, geography and Russian. She likes to spend her free time drawing and playing chess with her cousin. She also helps out her mom around the house.

Three years ago, Varsine was accepted into FAR’s Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP). Through this support Varsine was able to take holidays in Sevan and Jermuk with her mother, where Varsine made a lot of friends. Her mother was also able to purchase drawing supplies for her.

“We can make a living, however without this support, I would have never been able to provide my kid with a vacation. During our trip, I really saw that Varsine felt freer and more able to socialize with other children her age. Thank you so much for the support,” said Varya.