Without the right to choose – a story that began with a letter
Journalist Leah Khojoyan has been involved in charity work for several months, which she never planned.
It all started with the story of the isolation of one family in Etchmiadzin. This city was the first major outbreak of coronavirus in Armenia. Its inhabitants were forced to isolate themselves even before the introduction of a state of emergency in the country.
“From the very first day of quarantine in Etchmiadzin, the editorial office began to receive calls from people who were in a difficult situation. For me, the impetus was a desperate letter from a woman whose husband was isolated in a hotel in another city with suspected coronavirus (he later turned out to have contracted it indeed).
“The remaining members of the family — his parents, his wife, and three minor children — were isolated at home. And they had nothing – no food, no possibility of buying anything, either. And I just turned to friends on social networks. I said that I want to help a family in need, those who wish can join. I also turned to Bari Mom (Kind Mom) for help and immediately received a positive response. They gave me food rations – and not just this, but two more families. And so this charity work began,” says Leah.
From that day on, every evening after work, Leah delivers food to families in her car. She says that for her, it’s the lonely old people who are the priority, but she tries to help everyone as much as she can:
“There are families that are in difficult situations, and the children are hungry. But there were many cases when I asked them for an address, and when people in a conversation understood that I was not from the government, and they refused my help – so as not to bother me. This was already a manifestation of their concern for me.”
A number of people have been helping Leah – friends, friends of friends, strangers. They give her food or money. And few doubt that their help reaches those who need it most.
For the journalist, rallying people around her initiative was both expected and unexpected at the same time:
“Many have problems now, many have lost their jobs, and if they have not lost them, they are still not unsure about tomorrow. Because for more than a month now, thanks to these people, I was able to support two or three families a day – it’s just a miracle. People respond, offer help when they can. Some give food, others clothes. Some people offer help with repairs. People are very kind, and this situation is proof of that.”
For Leah, on the other hand, an emotionally difficult period began. She cannot talk about some of her new acquaintances without tears:
“Once I was distributing help and met a 23-year-old pregnant woman. She is a pupil of an orphanage, lives alone in terrible conditions, rents one room in a private house without any amenities. The staircase leading to her room was broken, and each time I came to her, I was afraid she would slip and give birth ahead of time.
In the process, it turned out that in addition to the lack of food, she had more serious problems: she did not have a passport. In six months of pregnancy she had never been with a doctor and was not registered in the clinic. Before quarantine, she worked as a cleaner, but now, for obvious reasons, she no longer works, and she won’t be able to do it after quarantine.
This story has touched many. In addition to food, people gave clothes to a girl and an unborn child, a bed for a child, toys, and hygiene items. There were people who wanted to fix the stairs, but the head of the district administration, where she rented a house, took up this issue himself, and also helped with obtaining a passport.
Today, the pregnant woman is already registered with the doctor, on May 14 will receive a passport, and in July she will give birth to her first child. The most important thing is that so much of everything that a pupil of the orphanage has experienced in life has given a positive answer to my question whether she is going to raise a child herself. And then she also sent me a photo of the cradle, which she had already decorated in anticipation of the baby.”
Leah admits that during this time, much has changed in her life and in herself. She decided that she did not want to grow old alone:
“I used to look at this question through my fingers, but now I visibly felt that there was nothing worse than being at the end of life alone.”
Every evening, the journalist publishes on her Facebook page a report on the work done during the day and expresses gratitude to those who helped her in this endeavor.