“I earned about 35,000 drams ($75) a month. Meanwhile I had to buy on credit food worth double of my salary from the same shop.”
It was not sustainable and her family was running the risk to lose its apartment. Chalyan thought the time had come to seek for opportunities beyond her known world. In 2014 she consulted with some relatives living in the Russian city of Stavropol and soon after travelled to Dzhubga, a resort city on the Black Sea some 170 kilometers north of Sochi which is home to a large Armenian community.
Family connections are the main network used by Karabakhi women seeking work abroad, mainly because they feel safer and less likely of being exploited - but it can still happen.
“I found work in a cafe belonging to a relative of my mother’s. I worked for four months from 7am until 2am, weekend included for 1,000 rubles ($15) a day,” she sighs – not exactly a dream job.
She changed job as soon as she could and since then she’s been working in a grocery shop, mainly catering for tourists.
“I like working in the local bazaar, it is easier and I earn more, depending on the day. My employer provides for accommodation and food. I send all I make back home to my family.”