For seven years, Asya Galstyan has visited FAR’s Gyumri Atinizyan Senior Center every weekday morning to receive her main meal of the day. The 77-year-old has two daughters. She used to live with her youngest daughter a few years ago, before she moved to Yerevan to be near her four children who live and study in the capital.

“They rent a house in Yerevan. My grandchildren—a historian, a sociologist, a military intelligence officer, and an economist—study well. The other day, I was watching a TV program, when my grandchild, the sociologist, was on air. I was so proud!” Asya proudly exclaimed while eating her soup. “I eat my meal here at the soup kitchen. I don’t take it home; I don’t want to use extra resources to heat it up.”

Many who frequent the soup kitchen often try to bring a portion of it home for later, or take away additional portions to homebound loved ones. Asya explained that she tries to save on everything. Her sole income is now her monthly pension of about $79. Like many pensioners in Armenia, Asya lost her retirement in the Soviet collapse. “I even wash clothes by hand because I don’t have a washing machine. No new TV either. I live in a poor house, which is clean and tidy though.”

With love and devotion, Asya recollected the times with her Russian husband, who took great care of her and the family. He passed away in 1983, leaving Asya to raise their two children alone. For years, she had been working at the yarn factory in Gyumri, where she’d even received a Best Worker award at one point. “Upon graduating from the textile college, I started working on the factory floor, even though I had the skills to be a master assistant. During Soviet times the worker’s job was more profitable, and I could make enough money to support my kids,” she remarked.

Last year, Asya received a free eye examination thanks to a joint effort between Ayo! and the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP). Then she had surgery for her glaucoma. She is hopeful that she will soon fully recover her vision and be able to read again.

She is grateful to FAR’s donors for extending her a helping hand. “Our cook is a master, and those who distribute the food are nice and kind, too. Thank you for everything,” she said.

FAR’s Gyumri Atinizyan Senior Center serves meals five days a week to 160 elderly.