We are some of the lucky ones who had a happy and carefree childhood. In spite of the lack of toys and the continuing difficult social-economic situation after the first war, we were content, because we had an opportunity to go to school, to play and communicate with our contemporaries.
Then 2020 came, when the stores were full of various toys and electronic gadgets. There were places of entertainment and comfortable schools. But the coronavirus pandemic, the 44-day war and the Artsakh blockade have since deprived the 20,000 school-age children of Artsakh of their right to an education, ending their joyful games and putting them at risk of starvation. Schools are closed due to the lack of food, electricity and gas.
Unfortunately, our children have become the victims of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy.
Marta Chilingarian is from the village of Vank in Martakert. “It feels like the blockade of Artsakh stopped our life course. We rarely see cars in the streets. There aren’t children hurrying to school anymore, because classes have been suspended indefinitely. We can’t find the products we need in the stores. There is a lack of medicine. Divided families continue to remain on either side of the closed corridor. The apartments are deprived of heating, and if there is electricity, we use it sparingly. In this continuing blockade, we understood that our people are very kind, they help each other in hard times, and with all this we will survive this crisis situation.”
Since the blockade, Chilingarian has become more careful and has started to signify every moment of her life. She understood that New Year’s Eve, loved by everyone, is first and foremost a family holiday with happiness. She says we should start to value every moment we spend with our family, because on the other side of the closed road, hundreds of children and parents are separated from each other.
Chilingarian says she misses geography lessons and her classmates.
“School gives us education, which is essential for our future. In this situation, we believe that we must be armed with knowledge, so we can fight for our rights, which are ignored by a lot of people in the world.”
Despite the blockade and school closures, Chilingarian doesn’t like sitting at home and being sad; she believes every cloud has a silver lining.
“Most of my time, I spend reading. I also write verses or anything I feel. I started to explore new languages and deepen my knowledge,” she shared. Chilingarian says she has a lot of goals, but doesn’t like speaking out about them.
“I’d like to speak about them after I achieve them. All my goals concern the independence, recognition and development of Artsakh. I will give my knowledge to the future generations, because life goes on, and we must be a worthwhile generation,” said Chilingarian.
Mary Adamian is a ninth grader in Martuni. She says that this catastrophe will end one day, because the people of Artsakh are strong, fair and stubborn. Artsakh is Armenian land, and only Armenians have the right to live here.
“I am sure if this will continue for even years we will endure and win, as we are Armenians. Our nation belongs to God, and those who belong to God are unbeatable. We are unbeatable because we have faith. Our soul is fighting and free. We are ready to experience any hardships, as long as we protect and keep the land Armenian, for which thousands of people gave their lives,” said Adamian with conviction.
Adamian had many dreams before the blockade. Now she keeps them in her heart and doesn’t speak about them, because nobody speaks about personal dreams now. Everyone has one goal: to overcome these difficulties and live freely and happily in their own land.
“My biggest dream is to live in Artsakh,” she confessed.
She misses her school, classmates and teachers. She is impatient and wonders when she will return to school. Until then, she tries to fill her days with entertainment. She reads books and watches movies. She values the knowledge gained at school because it is helpful in this difficult situation. In any case, she believes she should continue to study and develop.
Arsen Gevorgian is 17 years old. He is a future soldier of Artsakh, its protector. He claims that the blockade created by Azerbaijan aims at depopulating Artsakh, but he says it seems they don’t know the people of Artsakh very well.
“They are unable to take in the fact that in blockaded Artsakh, no one is going to leave their homeland. On the contrary, these difficulties unite us. They give us strength and increase our sense of revenge against the enemy,” asserts Gevorgian.
Gevorgian is not only deprived of an education, but he has been enduring this blockade without his mother, who has been in Yerevan.
“My life has changed 180 degrees,” he describes. My mom is in Yerevan and can’t come back. I do the main housework. My perspective has changed completely. During this hard time, we have understood that the international community doesn’t help us because different countries have no benefit from us.”
Gevorgian says he misses his school, teachers and friends. He is an artist and aims to organize a personal exhibit before going to the army. The theme of his work is Artsakh. After he is discharged, he wants to become a designer and make his small contribution to building and making Artsakh known.