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Help Me Find My Father -=-


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Help Me Find My Father


[July 2, 2007]









“My greatest dream is to find my parents and live in one family, “ said 21-year-old Karine. But she is a bit confused, and doesn't know how to go about finding her parents, because she lived for 11 years in the Zatik Orphanage, and knows very little about them. She says she says that she started thinking about it recently. That confuses her, too, and as if to justify not thinking about it in the past, she says that the carefree years spent at Zatik made her forget her loneliness and suffering.


Anna Mnatsakanyan of the Armenian Benevolent Union has worked for years with children from orphanages and notes that all children, regardless of why and how they ended up in the orphanage, want to find their mothers, defend them from rumors, and protect their dreams of seeing them again. “No charity, care or nurturing is more important to them than being with their mother. They defend and justify their mothers, without even knowing anything about them. They love them to the point of worship, and they wait for them.”


“Usually, at my age young girls and boys want to live on their own, without their parents, but I want so much to live with my parents, maybe I'll succeed in finding them and rejoin them, “ Karine said. When she talks about her dream, she starts to smile. And then it makes no sense to ask if it's really possible to find them, to try to get them back together, because her dream finding her mother and father starts to infect you as well.


Karine's mother lives in Lachin now. Karine has no information about her father; she hasn't even seen a picture of him. She only knows the name—Samvel Abeli Zakharyan. “Several months ago my father called the Lachin police and asked about my mother, hairdresser Anahit Harutyunyan. That's how she is known in Lachin. But he was unable to speak with my mother. I know he asked about us, said that wanted to see us, but he is ashamed. We haven't heard from him for many years. I don't know where he called from. I don't know where to get details about the phone call, either, so I can find out where he is. I am ready to go to him myself, just so I know, just help me find my father, “ said Karine.


The Zakharyan family split up in the1990s. Karine remembers little from her past. “Before Zatik, we didn't live well. It seems we didn't own a place to live; I lived in my mother's friend's house. I remember that we were forced to leave our house, but was it ours? We lived in Charbakh. My little brother and sister were taken to Zatik, and then I was, too, “ Karine recounted. For seven months now, Karine has been living in Tziatzan House, which is intended for grown-up girls, but she visits her brother and sister every day. Tziatzan and Zatik are not far from each other.


“My sister and brother were always closer to each other because they were sent to Zatik together. When I came, they didn't know me. I was asked in Zatik whether I wanted to meet my sister and brother. But I already knew which of the children playing in the yard was my sister; I sensed it right away. Then, when we met, it was hard for my brother to accept me, but I managed to win his heart. Now we have very a good relationship and are very close, but I haven't yet told them that I want to find my mother and father, “ Karine said.


Soon Karine will be given an apartment as a part of the State Support to Orphanage Graduates Program. “I will miss Zatik a lot, the years spent year were unbelievably trouble free, I can't believe now that eleven years passed so quickly. Maybe in other orphanages the situation is different, since when people hear that I'm from Zatik they pity me, but now when I think about it I was more carefree then many children from many difficult families. But of course I regret that because I was so carefree, I didn't worry much about studying other languages, or adjusting to an independent lifestyle.


In the orphanage conflicts arise just like in families where there are many children and one TV set. “There are conflicts, but we don't get angry at each other. That's how we were brought up. We would go to school together. In the nearby school I went to, 80 of the 200 students were from Zatik. Can you imagine, every morning 80 of us with the same clothes, girls in red socks and boys in blue suits, would go to school. I remember that everyone would wear the same clothes and shoes. Instead of calling the parents they would call the warden. One of the wardens at Zatik became Karine's godmother. “Many said that I wouldn't get accepted to university, but she said that I could, and I did.” Now Karine is a freshman in the Pedagogy and Psychology Department at he Khachatur Abovyan' Pedagogical University.


Karine lives in Tziatzan along with ten other young women. Every month she receives 15,000 drams from a charity organization. She also sews cards which sell for 500-1000 drams. “Many people think that life is cruel in an orphanage, but it wasn't like that, at least at Zatik. I don't know how it is in other places, but I'm very happy that during the hard times for my parents I came here, where they helped me a lot. But now I am an adult, and I want to see my mother, but I don't know how to go about it, how to meet them...”


Lena Nazaryan




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