Gor Bidandunyan, 7, is a very gifted student. Every day, he brings home gold stars on his work as a testimony to his good performance at school. He likes drawing, soccer, and is a fan of Real Madrid soccer club, especially Ronaldo, one of the team’s most famous players. Gor wants to be like his older brother, Sergey, 9, who is in the 3rd grade and does well at both school and sports. Sergey has been training in karate for four years now, and now holds a purple belt and several medals and certificates. He wants to be a banker when he grows up.

The two live in the small industrial town of Kajaran in Syunik Province with their mother Rita, 37, and grandmother, Svetlana, 64. In 2014, both boys were accepted into FAR’s Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), which supports orphans and children of single-parents through annual financial stipends.

Gor and Sergey never actually met their dad, Gurgen, who was wounded by a sniper bullet while in the army in 1994. He underwent five surgeries and long-term treatment, which prolonged his life for six more years, until he passed away in 2000. Since then, Rita has worked as a monitor and guard at the Kajaran Kindergarten #1. Her meager salary, together with her mother-in-law’s pension barely amount to $250 a month.

Rita also has health problems. She recently had her thyroid removed and she suffers from heart and nervous system diseases. Gor is sick too; he has tonsil issues and foot pain. CASP money is a gift that has helped to ease the family’s hardships. It helped Rita to pay for surgery on her thyroid, as well as for surgeries on Sergey’s tonsils, ultimately improving the entire family’s quality of life.