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Artyom, a laborer who grew up in a domik, had been working in Russia but came back to his family when that opportunity dried up. Melina says they just want their daughters to grow up healthy and have a chance at a comfortable life.But between the various environmental factors and other symptoms of poverty, “domik kids” are sometimes stunted, often sick, and even more often ostracized at school.“The promise is it will get you to a level where you’ll take care of your family, you’ll be able to rent a home and live a normal life here in Gyumri,” Abajian says.
Do the math, and that’s a million problem in Gyumri alone, far more than the nonprofits take in.
So, picture desperate families, a harsh Armenian winter, and shipping containers everywhere.
An immediate solution presented itself: People moved into the containers.
Only tremendous effort and ingenuity keep the domiks from being fatally cold in winter and ovens in summer.
As I learned through interpreters, many of the domik families share a similar story: High unemployment drove a breadwinner to work abroad, often in Russia, but for reasons X, Y or Z, the money stopped coming.
Tens of thousands died and some half a million were left homeless.