Siramarg Aydinyan teaches the children of Aygepar and Movses villages in the Tavush Region both the beauty and the secrets of arts and crafts. “They should learn how beautiful the life around them is in their early years so they can learn how to carry on that beauty throughout their lives,” said Siramarg. “That would be their pathway out of poverty.”

Ignoring the constant background sound of cross-border gunfire and shelling that plague these villages Siramarg, a teacher fully devoted to her work, makes every effort to reach the Armenia-Azerbaijan border to be with her students. She leads one of the extracurricular hobby groups that FAR organizes in Berd City and its surrounding villages through its Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP).

Born in the village of Navur in Tavush, Siramarg graduated from Yerevan State College of Fine Arts in 1987. She then returned to her native village to work in the Tavush Region’s local schools as an art teacher. She has been there ever since. The children, she says, inspire her and give her strength. “When I see children suffering from hardship because of an unofficial war in the region, my heart hurts. Full of difficulties, their childhood then goes unfulfilled. I want to fill their lives with color and hope.”

Siramarg lives in Berd City and she takes risks to travel the 20 kilometers to Movses and Aygepar to see her students. Often she has to walk at least part of the way; sometimes she waits for hours on the side of the road to hitch a ride from a passing car.

Siramarg’s love and care for her students is evident and she rarely talks about her own hardships. After her husband’s death in 1998, she was left alone to raise her two children. As she says, FAR was her biggest supporter and best friend during this most difficult period of her life. During those years her son Tigran became a beneficiary of FAR’s Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), through which he received much-needed financial support until he turned 18. Tigran currently serves in the Armenian Army in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Siramarg’s daughter Liana successfully competed for and won a FAR scholarship and graduated from Yerevan State Pedagogical University. Liana is now working as an Armenian language teacher in Berd.
There are still difficulties in Siramarg’s life, which she continues to work through. Her job helps greatly with that, she said. “First of all, I have to work to support my children. Besides, I love my job and I love being with children. I feel like it is my duty; Our soldiers fight on the border, and I fight with my paint brush. I try to take children out of their everyday lives that are filled with danger through painting. As an interesting activity it helps them to process and overcome the psychological stress they may carry from hearing the constant sounds of cross-border skirmishes.”

More than 50 children attend her painting classes on a regular basis. Siramarg is especially proud of the five exhibitions of the kids’ work, which were held over the past year, including one in Berd City. The best works now decorate the corridors and art classrooms of local community schools. The interest among the younger generation in the region toward the arts continues to grow so rapidly day by day that there is now a waiting list to join Siramarg’s classes.