Life has been especially tough for Elvira Tovmasyan ever since she lost her husband, Masis. She can hardly hold back the tears when she talks about the last time she heard his voice. “I clearly remember that day. I called my husband but he wouldn’t pick up the phone; then I messaged him. He texted me back, assuring me that everything was okay and there was no need to worry. I was in touch with him until 4am. By the time I called him at 8, he was already unreachable,” she said.

Masis never had any fear, said Elvira, even though he had been clearing road mines in Artsakh for the last five years for HALO Trust, a UK-based organization committed to demining in Artsakh. During the early clashes, he was among some of the first civilians to volunteer to head to the front lines. On April 3rd, Masis was killed during the shelling of Yeghnikner in the Martuni Region.

The Four-Days War of April 2016 not only left many children fatherless, it also left many families without a source of livelihood or security. In 2017, with generous support from the Knights of Vartan, FAR expanded its Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) to start providing financial aid to children who had lost their fathers in this war. So far, 18 children from throughout Artsakh have received annual financial aid amounting to $250 per child.

After Masis’s death, Elvira was left to raise their two children, Edvin,12, and Elen, 10, alone in a two-room house owned by Elvira’s parents. She works as a nurse at a nearby hospital and studies psychology at Artsakh State University. “It’s hard to care for children with my hectic schedule. I also work nightshifts. That’s why I want to change my job,” she said, while also noting her low salary of about $150 a month as another reason.

With the CASP stipend, Elvira was able to buy warm clothes, including coats, boots, and other basics for her kids last winter, something she says was a huge relief for her. Now, all she wants is a bright future for Edvin and Elen, and a world free from war.