You Do That to Mock Us
[February 12, 2007]
These three young children and their mother live in a room on the eighth floor of the drivers' dormitory located at 127/2 Nor Aresh Street in Yerevan. The windows of the doorless room lack glass, there are no toilet or sink, no water, the floor is concrete. Seven-year-old Diana and four-year-old Eric are barefoot – they don't have shoes.
They wear the only clothes they have - that is why no one sees them in other clothes. Because they have no clothes for her, they keep one-year-old Lianna in bed. The only place to get warm is the bed covered with soot and dirt and by the electric cooker. They burnt the wooden door and window frames a long time ago. This is the third year they have rented this room.
Their mother, Naira works as a cleaning woman at a gas station, but that does little to improve their situation. The family gets no allowances since two of the children don't have birth certificates, even though they were born in a state hospital. Diana was supposed to go to school this year but she doesn't have a birth certificate, clothes, shoes, a book-bag, books… Because the mother doesn't have any registration papers herself she can't get the children's birth certificates. Naira used to be a schoolteacher and tried to start a business with her husband but they failed and lost everything. Naira didn't want to tell us the details just saying: “Anyway, it won't change our situation.”
“Journalists and people from NGOs have come and filmed us so many times us but nothing has changed. What have you come for?” the woman asks. “They come, film us, show us on TV. Journalists are looking for subjects but in any case, people's attitude doesn't change. You do it to mock us. I don't need that. No one is going to help us. No one needs us,” Naira says.
Naira has been to almost every state agency to at least process the children's birth certificates so they will be eligible for government aid, but no one has helped. They even asked her for money. She has also applied to charity organizations, various wealthy people, and members of parliament, government officials, and opposition leaders. None of them responded.
Numerous organizations dealing with children's rights operate in Armenia but none has shown interest in the family, even though their situation has been reported on in newspapers and on television.