After his father was killed by sniper fire in the Four-Day War of April 2016, 10-year-old Rafayel Danielyan could not cope.

“Rafayel was traumatized. He isolated himself from family and peers, and wouldn’t talk to anyone for a while,” said his grandma, Nona, who spent six months in the hospital for heart issues after her son was killed.

Marat Danielyan was just 33 when he, together with some other civilians, voluntarily headed to the front lines of Artsakh, leaving his wife, Lusine, and Rafayel and his sister, Milena, 6, alone.

“He was against any injustice; he didn’t like discrimination against people and would fight for justice no matter how hard it seemed to him. ’If not me, then who’s going to protect you?’” Nona recollected Marat saying on the last day she ever saw him.

When Marat was killed, Lusine was left on her own to figure out a way to support her children. The couple had opened a small flower shop in 2013, which Lusine primarily ran. Marat worked at a well-known local nature reserve called Hunot Canyon.

What helped Lusine and her children was the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), which, through the generous support from the Knights of Vartan, extended additional financial aid to children who had lost their fathers in the Four-Day War. Since 2017, 18 children from Artsakh and 44 children from Armenia have received this aid, which totals $250 per child, annually. CASP also supports 550 other children with stipends throughout Armenia and Javakhk.

The support has helped Rafayel to better cope with the pain of losing his father. In addition to being able to buy basics like clothing and school supplies for her two kids, Lusine was able to afford soccer lessons for her son, which he loves. Marat also played soccer as a boy. Now, Rafayel dreams of either being a professional soccer player or a doctor.

Rafayel often re-visits the places in Hunot Canyon where he used to go on walks with his father.

“Every time Rafayel goes there, he picks up Marat’s beloved wild flowers and brings them home,” said Nona.