Children of War: Life Between two Motherlands
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Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, about 17,000 Syrian Armenians have arrived in Armenia. The first issue, the country decided to solve, was the education of children. Special classes were opened for pupils from Syria, which also included the teaching of Arabic language.

 

However, many children still need help to adapt to their historical homeland. As part of a special program of the Armenian Red Cross, which operates for its second year, more than 500 children from 10 schools in Yerevan have had special trainings to quickly get used to local life.

"In general, children are open and are willing to talk about their experiences. Many parents and teachers say that these children are very active. However, suffered stress might be reason for that. Among the children who participate in our program, there aren’t many ones who need serious psychological help. Still, those who witnessed military operations, often have a feeling of anxiety, fears or nightmares, "- says Naira Yerkanian, a psychologist of Armenian Red Cross Society.

In her opinion, the apparent active behavior of the children from Syria living in Armenia does not mean that the problem of integration is solved. Things are especially difficult for those children who attend schools without a large number of immigrant kids from Syria. They find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, where they have to adapt. Everyone should help these kids: friends, neighbors, teachers.

Despite the fact that the Armenians of Syria have Western Armenian as a native tongue, they have to get used to the peculiarities of the Eastern Armenian, spoken in Armenia. This problem, which seems to be easily solved, in fact, according to the psychologist, is one of the main challenges of integration.

Students from Aleppo attending a school in Yerevan named after Shirvanzade about the new life and their memories of hometown. 

Antony Hakobyan, 12

-I came from  ... actually, I fled Aleppo. Bombs were exploding there. Everything in the city was destroyed. We arrived four months ago. I wanted to come to Armenia, and this city is good too. But I was born there and will never forget Aleppo ...

There was nobody we knew. We did not have anyone, nor we had any friends. At first it was difficult in the yard, but at the end, I made friends. Friends often ask me what will happen to Syria. I say ‘Things will improve, but do not know when.’ Here, I like to study. But in Aleppo, I was hard-working at school. Most of all I like math.

I have asked Santa Claus that things go well in Syria. That’s the gift I want ... I want to go back to Syria, but bombs don’t let me.

Avo Fishendzhyan, 13

-When we left Aleppo two years ago, many bombs were being dropped and it was very dangerous. For six months I did not go to school, as they were closed. Very often it happened that the shells exploded very close to us. For example, one day I was walking from my grandmother's house to my father's shop, when a shell exploded near me and stunned me. My whole body was shaking ... it was very scary.

I was told that we were leaving for Armenia. I was worried about how my school would be, but when I arrived, it turned out to be better and more fun. In Aleppo, I went to Gulbenkian school, we had a large yard, where we played a lot. I miss that school, my relatives and friends. My friends now have no electricity, no water, we can not communicate with them. At first I didn’t understand the children in Armenia, but gradually we became friends. But I could not tell my friends here about all that happened to us in Syria. 

I like how children are treated here; we are taught well . In Yerevan, I like to walk from the Opera and to ride a bike. My dad allows me everything, but I dream to get  skates as a gift for the New Year, my father does not buy it - he says it's dangerous.

Arev Asarjian, 14

-I was born and grew up in Syria. Now it’s 4 years that I have lived in Armenia. Everyone accepted me well here, but it’s only now that I feel adapted. Aleppo is an Arab city, but we all speak Armenian. Here (in Armenia) everyone speaks Eastern Armenian. Even my friends often use Russian words when they speak Armenian. In Russian I only know the word ‘privet’ [hello].

I miss living in Aleppo, I miss my house, the food, the vegetables, that can’t be found here. In our districts in Aleppo the houses of Armenians were located next to each other. Here we all live far from each other. I want to ask Santa Claus good times for Syria that I could go to my sister in America. I always pray that the road open and the people of Syria can to come to Armenia.

 

Maria Yakubian, 8

-We arrived 3 months ago. When we landed at the airport, I became happy ... and a little sad. At first it was a little difficult to make friends in the yard; I thought, they would say, ‘You are not our friend’. There were two-three kids who would not play with me. But now I have a lot of friends - ten! Out of these, only Silva and another boy came from Syria; my other friends are from Armenia.

The first days at school were was difficult too. I didn’t understand everything. My aunt would help me. She had came to Armenia before us. I would like to go back to Syria. When I think of Aleppo, I remember my uncle, aunt, grandmother ... and the other grandmother, who stayed there.

On New Year I want to get a gift doll.

 

Sylvie Karapetyan, 9

-About 5 months ago we came from Aleppo. I was afraid that I could not speak here. But I came, and it turned out that we all understand each other.

In Syria, I have many friends, together we prepared the classes and visited each other. When I said I was leaving - some were crying, because we wouldn’t not see each other ... I do not know what to ask Santa Claus for, probably a roller skates.

Vana Markaryan, 11

-I was delighted when I found out that we were coming to Armenia. After all, every day in Syria 100 people were killed. Once we were on the street in Aleppo accompanying our aunt and then shootings began. A piece of shrapnel hit the hand of my sister Azniv. Then, a year later a shell hit the room of our house, which Azniv had left only two minutes before the hit. Now our house is half destroyed.

One day my older sister Ghali and his father came home, turned on the TV and found out that on the street they had passed 5 minutes before a large crater had formed. It was sad to part with friends and family. But even when I was living in Aleppo, I watched the Armenian TV channels, so it was easy to understand and speak Armenian. I also participated in the "Ari Tun" [approx. Ed. Armenian government program "Ari Tun" (Come home) for children and young Diaspora Armenians]. So I had been to Armenia many times. I liked this place immediately.

I want to ask Santa Claus for peace in Syria and so that my friends come to Yerevan.

 

Chai Khana
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