Armenian president donates annual salary for reconstruction of city affected by earthquake
The Armenian President has donated his annual salary, which amounts to 23,000 dollars, for the reconstruction of Gyumri – the second largest city in the country which was damaged in the 1988 earthquake, and where people are still living in temporary shelters.
Armen Sargsyan donated this sum to the Our Gyumri foundation.
“Gyumri is our home, let’s reconstruct it, breathe life into it. This is a special city with a beautiful history and good people”, the president’s Facebook page wrote in a post.
The Armenian president is quite a frequent guest in Gyumri: earlier, he said that he welcomed any efforts to preserve and popularize the culture and history of the city famous for its flavor. It is often called the city of arts in Armenia.
Armen Sargsyan believes that Gyumri should be popularized, first of all, in the country itself, to attract its own citizens to the area.
At the same time, during one of his recent visits to Gyumri, the president promised to do everything possible to make the city recognized as a cultural heritage site at the international level:
“We must all contribute our share to this business: both businessmen, intellectuals, and artists. Gyumri should become a city of culture, history, handicrafts and art.”
In addition, the president stressed the importance of solving social problems and raising the standard of living of local residents.
The Our Gyumri foundation
Our Gyumri started a project in the fall in Gyurmi to build social housing.
Through this programme, people who have been living in temporary houses for many years will be provided with renovated and already furnished apartments.
To this end, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund in June organized a charity telethon in the United States. The foundation periodically holds similar charity events to solve various problems in Armenia with the help and participation of the diaspora.
At this time, it managed to collect 1,437,408 dollars. According to the organizer, “France donated most of this amount: $800,000, Lebanon – $87,750, US – $250,000, and in Armenia $248,000 was collected”.
In total, about 80 families in Gyumri will receive new apartments as a result of the program. New owners will be able to settle a year after the start of construction.
On the first floor of the building will be businesses that will benefit residents, both as consumers and as jobs.
“Different stores will open: a beauty salon, a jewelery hall, a culinary, computer, and also an art hall, where trainings will be held. This will allow residents to live and work in one place”, a representative of the Hayastan Foundation explained.
On the Gyumri earthquake
On December 7, 1988, at 11:41, a devastating earthquake of magnitude nine on the Richter scale occurred in Armenia. 11 cities were affected, 342 villages.
Unable to withstand the powerful aftershocks, buildings collapsed in the cities of Spitak, Vanadzor (at that time Kirovakan), Gyumri (Leninakan) and the surrounding villages. More than 22,000 houses and apartments were destroyed, of which more than 20,000 were in Gyumri alone.
The total number of victims was 25,000 people, of which 15-17,000 were buried under the ruins in the city of Gyumri, while 4,000 died in Spitak. Half a million people were less without homes.
Immediately after the earthquake, the leadership of the USSR promised to restore Gyumri in two years. Temporary dwellings were provided for the people – while new quarters were to be built for those left homeless.
The Soviet Union collapsed, and independent Armenia continued to rebuild the city on its own.
The construction was carried out according to different projects – with the assistance of the World Bank, the Huntsman program, the Lincy Foundation, the Red Cross, various charitable organizations.
As a result, in the Shirak region certificates for the purchase of housing were given to 23,121 families in need of housing, of which 21,184 are from Gyumri.
However, in Gyumri there are still about 2,500 temporary but inhabited shelters.