by Nane Sevunts
I am Davit. I am 13 years old. I live in a shelter in Giumry, an Armenian town. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. They are younger than me. I need to work to feed them.
This is my mom. Her name is Shogher. She is sick. She can’t work so I have to work to take care of her.
I get up at 5 o’clock and go out to clean the yards. I work as a janitor from 5 am to 7 am. Sometimes it is cold outside, and my hands are freezing, but I am happy I can work.
Then I go to school on some days when we have food. If we don’t have food, I go to find wood in the forest to sell to my neighbors so that I can buy bread.
I want to become an astronaut. But first, I need to feed my family.
This is Edgar. He is an oligarch. He has 10 cars and 5 houses. Edgar is a businessman. He does not need to work every day. Other people work for him.
When I pass by his house, I think something is wrong in this world. The shelter that I live in is made of metal, and he lives in a big concrete house that resembles a museum. I could never understand why they need the house to be so big. But that’s me. Perhaps they do.
When I become an astronaut, I want to take a picture of our Planet Earth from the sky. I want this picture to show all the shelters made of metal where children like my siblings freeze without a heating system and the museum-like houses where they throw away a quantity of food that would be enough for my family to survive for a year.
I want this picture to show Edgar in his black super nice car and me sweeping the yards outside at -30 degrees Celsius in winter.
I want this picture to show all the kids like me that can’t go to school every day because they have to work for food and all the rich people like Edgar that don’t need to work for their bread.
I would call this picture ”Survival and Affluence”.
I am 13. I don’t understand a lot of things in this life. But I have a sense that something is wrong on our Planet Earth. I think we shouldn’t starve…
Poverty in Armenia
According to data in 2016, 29.4% or 880,000 people are officially considered poor. This means that one out of three people is poor. A person is considered poor if he or she spends less than USD 88 per month, very poor if he or she spends less than USD 72 and extremely poor if he or she spends up to USD 50.
Among the poor people, women and children are especially vulnerable. As of 2016, 2.0% of children under the age of 18 live in extreme poverty, and 34.2% live in poverty. The families that live below the poverty line have both heating and malnutrition problems. These issues are especially acute in single mother families and families with more than 3 children.
Shade of Light
In April-May, 2018, a revolution swept through Armenia. People did not want to see any more Davits and Edgars in society. They stood up to the injustice of the system and said ”NO” to those who were sponsoring these unfair relationships.
The tidal wave of revolution engulfed everything on its way, giving hope to people that one day when Davit will become an astronaut, he will not have poor shelters and luxury villas to photograph. He will see a more equal life on Planet Earth where people divide the resources fairly.
The wave of revolution was the answer to the injustice that had been sustained in Armenia for so long under the regime of the former government. Thousands of children like Davit had to work to support their families. Thousands of mothers like Davit’s mother were sick and could not buy medication or basic food. We want this era to end.
I don’t mean that poverty will be swept away immediately. We will have people struggling to survive for a long time. But the new wave gave hope to the people that it is not going to be the same anymore. We look into the future with the hope that one day we will have a social state where the government will assist those who cannot support themselves. We look into the future with the hope that the government will be willing and able to support vulnerable people and that the elderly, the single mothers, the children, the disabled and the sick will not be left on their own without any assistance or care. We do hope that such a day will come and we will be witnesses to these changes.
Today probably Davit still works as a janitor in the streets. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see Davit getting his education and becoming an astronaut. Even with the slightest hope in our heart, we are stronger. We will fight for Davit. Each citizen of the Republic of Armenia is the mother and the sister and the brother of Davit. You are not alone, little boy. We are here to back you with all the love and wisdom of our hearts.
Ampop News Portal, ”Poverty in Armenia”, 05 May 2018 https://ampop.am/poverty-in-armenia/
Woman and Society Information Analytical Portal, ”The face of poverty”, http://womennet.am/poverty-face-in-armenia/