Care for Marginalized
‘This Is the Only Light’ Caritas brings hope to young and old in Armenia by Gayane Abrahamyan
ighty-year-old Marjik waits in her doorway in Artashat, Armenia, until she finally catches sight of the vehicle she has been expecting: a white car with “Love” painted in red on the side. She greets the arriving caregiver, Nelly, as she emerges from the car. “Oh, dear Nelly, what a good thing it is that you’ve come,” Marjik says. “Come, my girl, be my guest,” she says, inviting the woman into her home — little more than a shack.
Marjik has lived here for 30 years with her son, who suffered serious injuries in the war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990’s. A former shipping container, her home is about 20 feet wide and has been partitioned in half. To the left of the entrance is a living area that also stores dishes, pots and bottles containing collected water. On the right side stand two beds, a small cupboard with a television on it and an iron stove. The shelter has no running water. Marjik and her son go to a nearby
florist to procure water for bathing and cleaning, and they use the toilet at their next-door neighbor’s house. By any measure, their lives are a struggle. “We live off my pension,” she says of her subsidy that totals about $75 a month. “We are not included in any social program. They say they give that pension to me, not for my family. My family is just my sick son, and I must take care of him. He fought in Karabakh — he spent years in trenches and at outposts in cold conditions,” she explains. “Now he