"They called and said father was sick, 300 km away. How to get there during a pandemic?” – personal stories from Armenia
Since March 16, Armenia has been living in a state of emergency due to the epidemic of coronavirus. Residents can leave the house for a short time only on important matters and with a special pass. All public transport has been suspended.
In the evening, David Poghosyan got a call and was told his father was in serious condition in the hospital. David’s parents live in Kapan, about 300 kilometers from Yerevan.
“I needed to get to Kapan immediately. There is no public transport, taxis do not travel from Yerevan, as during the quarantine period it is not allowed to take more than one passenger. And it is difficult for one passenger to pay the driver for such a long distance”, says David.
After a long search, he managed to get to Kapan with the help of acquaintances. Things became calmer once David got here, and is father recovered a bit as well.
“Thank God father is recovering, but doctors say that he should stay in the hospital for another 10 days at least. I visit him twice a day and carry food to the hospital. I’m standing under the window – they don’t let me into the ward, and we communicate. On the way from the hospital, I usually go to a small grocery store near my parents’ house. I know few people in Kapan, but in our area the locals have already learned about me.
“In the store, I usually do not make big purchases. Today, when I wanted to pay, the saleswoman said: ‘You can not pay, keep the money at home. You might need it at the hospital or for the purchase of medicines.”
When she noticed my surprise, she continued: “You can buy on credit. It’s not easy for everyone now, many cannot pay.” And I suddenly thought that an ordinary saleswoman providing food to ordinary people like this must be a sign of the end of the world,” says David.
The consequences of the spread of coronavirus in Armenia are most difficult to survive for the poor, those who are left without work and earnings.
Volunteer groups have appeared in Armenia that help with food and essentials, but all of this is not enough to overcome the current situation.
Journalist Nana Martirosyan lives and works in Yerevan. Now, when many have been left without work, she receives several calls a day asking for help. The journalist writes articles about these people and tries to help them, because she knows how hard it is for them now.
“In the 90s, we lived in Russia, and my father went to work in neighboring cities to earn money. Somehow he was delayed and arrived home later than planned. And at that time there was absolutely no money left in the house. On the last penny, my mother bought black bread and some sugar. From that day on, brown bread has been associated with poverty.
All day we drank sweet tea with some herbs and ate this bread. The next morning, my brother woke up early in the morning and ate everything that was left of the bread. Mom angrily asked him: “What will your sister eat?” When I said that I was not hungry, my mother sobbed.
The next day, my brother fell ill – he probably caught a cold. Mom pulled socks soaked in vinegar on his legs and put a cold compress on his forehead, prayed endlessly that the temperature would subside and he would no longer be shaking with a fever. We tried to call an ambulance, but the ambulance number did not answer.
After midnight, I pulled a notebook with phone numbers from my mother’s bedroom and ran to the neighbors. I called from them to my mother’s brother, who lived in Moscow. I asked him to find dad and send him home, because my brother is sick, and my mother and I are hungry. In the morning, my uncle was already with us, and had a bunch of medicine and food, and in the evening my father arrived,” says Nana.
She admits that it was on that day that she decided: she should get a good education, live in Armenia, make good money so that she can never see her mother hungry again.
About life during the state of emergency she says:
“Today, a middle-aged woman was standing nearby in the store and she also bought brown bread and sugar. I remembered my story again. I realized that these days there are people who go to bed hungry. Upon leaving the store, I quietly put the cheese that I had bought in this woman’s bag. When I returned home, my mother was upset that I did not buy everything for the house. I had to tell her why it happened. And she suddenly admitted that she had been helping one of our neighbors as well – a neighbor which I really don’t like.”