The Petrosyans had been living in their dilapidated house, a single-story building with a leaky roof and a dirt floor, in the border town of Nerkin Karmiraghbyur for 23 years until FAR came to help through its Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP).

“I said goodbye to the old house without tears. I had tears when I first entered my new house and felt the solid roof above my head and a good foundation under my feet,” said Sargyul, 47, mother to Alina, 19, Alik, 13, and Alisa, 11.

BCPP aims to contribute to the stabilization of vulnerable families in the Berd Region of Tavush Province and its 16 surrounding communities through various initiatives to combat poverty, including housing assistance.

Ani Papyan, a social worker at FAR’s Berd Office, said that the Petrosyans had been on FAR’s radar since BCPP started in 2013. “We found out that the house had fallen into a state of near ruin. Their lifetime dream was to have a safe and secure shelter free from exposure to heavy rains and storms,” she said, adding that the father Hrant, 53, wanted to build a small house in the neighborhood but had limited financial and technical resources to do so.

Through BCPP’s support, Hrant purchased materials needed to start the construction. However, it was not enough and supporters of the FAR Children’s Center , along with other individual ex-pat donors, jumped in to help the family to get more building supplies, technology and equipment to dig the ground, lay the foundation, and build the house. In the meantime, the family worked tirelessly breeding cattle to later sell them for the purchase of construction materials, such as cement.

Four years later, in 2017, the family moved into their new house. “February 27. This is my lucky day and my lucky number,” chuckled Sargyul, stating the date construction was complete on the new dwelling. The house has two rooms—one bedroom and one living room that also serves as a kitchen—with the possibility of expansion in the future. “My kids are safe, now free from the rampant illness due to the humidity we had in the previous house. This is what matters now.” While the house still lacks a lot, the family is working hard to further make the inside more inhabitable. They depend on agriculture and animal husbandry for a living. FAR has also provided them with a cow, and Sargyul sells the diary for extra income.

“As a visitor, I see a lot of changes inside the family—joy, warmth, and sparkling eyes. They confess that FAR has supported them to move their life trajectory in a more positive direction,” Papyan said, adding that it has had a positive impact on the kids’ school and college success as well. “Besides school, Alisa and Alik also attend FAR’s painting club located in the community. Alina attends knitting classes, in addition to her normal college classes, at Berd Vocational College, and also receives support through BCPP to cover her transportation costs to and from school.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) is a multidimensional FAR project addressing child poverty in the region of Tavush, sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation.