29-year old Lana and her two little daughters found shelter in Vanadzor, third largest city in Armenia. This is one of the most woody and picturesque regions in Armenia. The latest war in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) took away Lana’s husband, deprived their children of their father and careless life. Lana’s husband Davit is smiling at us from photos in various corners of home.
We are visiting this family with Hripsime Mirzoyan – the Social affairs department of the Gugarats Diocese that is in charge for Vanadzor and the wider region. Lana Kochinyan is a beneficiary of the “Artsakh Outreach” humanitarian project that is led by the efforts of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
Davit and Lana had met in Stepanakert. Davit, originally from Vanadzor, was a military officer. Lana then worked as psychologist in the Republican hospital in Artsakh’s capital.
“In the beginning we lived in Artsakh, I am originally from Artsakh. So first we lived in Stepanakert, then moved to Jabrail, then Balahovit, then moved to Vanadzor”, Lana recalls. She was in Armenia, when her husband was called on duty immediately after the war erupted on September 27. First their battalion was in Ararat region, then their peacekeeping battalion was moved to Hadrout, in Artsakh.
Lana is telling her story in somewhat desperate calmness and tries to hide it from the children. She says her husband was killed sometime in the middle of the war, the day after her and their daughter’s birthday, when Davit and other servicemen were on their way from Hadrout to Karmir Shuka. Davit Kochinyan, an officer in the Chemical corps of the peacekeeping forces, fell a victim of subversive operation by the enemy. “That happened on October 21. A week later we were planning to celebrate his 30th anniversary. He was a very diligent and responsible man, full of live, with a great sense of humor, unselfish and ready to help anyone in need”, Lana describes her late husband.
She tells us that her husband had once mentioned to his brothers and friends that he doubted he would be able get out alive. Lana, understandably, starts crying every time with these words.
“We came to Vanadzor, because this is Davit’s native city, and I wanted that our children grew up surrounded by their relatives. It’s been two weeks they go to kindergarten”, Lana says. Her mom had come from Stepanakert to help them. She will meet children after the kindergarten and take care in general while they are looking for a job. It’s hard to find a job in Vanadzor. And the government has so far shown no attention or any support. This is the only support and humanitarian aid they are receiving under the auspices of the “Artsakh Outreach” program under the aegis of the Catholicos of All Armenians and the Mother See.
The children of course miss their father a lot. “Our elder daughter’s birthday was on November 20th and she would constantly wonder – Is that not coming home tomorrow either?” She knew that we had always been together on all important dates.
“We were told of the incident on October 22, but his remains were rescued only on November 22. We had no news for a month. We cherished some hopes, but, I probably lost it in a week or so and stopped waiting and lying to myself. It would have been impossible for him, had he been alive, not to ping us anyhow in ten days. That’s why I realized I must prepare myself to the worst… that I have to live with this”, Lana narrates for us with a very heavy heart.
While we talked, the children were playing with the toys that “Artsakh Outreach” team had carefully picked and wrapped and Hripsime had brought for them. Children are noisy, as everywhere. Lana talks to them with all her motherly and, in her case also professional, patience.
We are wondering what has she told to the children, how has she explained to them what has happened. Through many tears and in such a low voice that we can hardly hear, Lana responds: “They knew that their dad departed to protect all of us. Now, after what happened, I didn’t want them to wait in vain and that’s why told them that our dad went far away, to the stars, and is protecting us from there. When they wake up in the mornings they are sending kisses to the skies… I don’t want them to wait and then…”
Prepared by Zaruhi Dilanyan
Artsakh Outreach project, implemented by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and its dioceses, has to continue with the continuous fundraising efforts by Armenians worldwide.
The aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia, launched by Azerbaijan, Turkey and international terrorist forces since September 27, 2020 that lasted for 44 days, resulted in displacement of around 100.000 Armenians from Artsakh who found shelters in various regions of Armenia-proper. A significant share of these families have returned to Artsakh by now. However, both in Armenia and Artsakh there are hundreds of families with acute social and humanitarian needs. Official statistics lists more than 35.000 people lost their homes, and the families of slain and wounded heroes of war experience a long list of psychological and social issues.
By the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, a new project called “Artsakh Outreach” was initiated in December 2020 with the aim of better coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts of these most vulnerable families both in Armenia and Artsakh. All resources in Diaspora and Armenia have been pooled for this effort, chaired by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian – the Pontifical Legate of the Western Europe and Representative of the Armenian Church to the Vatican. To contribute in this fundraising and keep our global community informed of the proceedings a special website was launched – www.artsakhoutreach.org.