STEPANAKERT — In Stepanakert, Armenia Fund has helped to fully reconstruct a nursing home which was on its last legs. The elderly and disabled who live there will now have access to facilities and amenities they do not have access to anywhere else.
They are called the “golden years” because they are supposed to glisten like gold. After decades of life, some surely difficult, a person’s golden years are to be the time when they are finally able to slow down, relax, and enjoy. For some in Artsakh, it’s not that simple.
After the Artsakh War for Independence, family life changed drastically for many elderly who lost their children during the fighting. Others still lost their homes during the bombardment of civilian communities by Azerbaijani forces.
Due to cultural norms that required families to care for their elders when they were no longer able to live alone, Artsakh never had any nursing homes. But, because of the lingering effects of the war, a Soviet-era kindergarten in Stepanakert was repurposed and turned into the region’s first nursing home in the early 1990s with the assistance of benefactor Louise Simon Manoogian. Joined by disabled people who would also otherwise be on the streets, it’s the only place in Artsakh where people who have nowhere else to go can call home.
When Armenia Fund noticed that the outdated and crumbling structure required a full reconstruction, it took on the job. Working together with the government of Artsakh, it came up with a complete rehabilitation plan. Joining the project as its major sponsor was Alex Shakhazizyan of Russia.
Now done, the nursing home has a heating system, new doors, and new windows installed. Each room was outfitted with a bathroom and the kitchen and cafeteria are built next to the residential block. The roofs of all buildings that are part of the complex have been updated and are brand new. Part of the rehabilitation plan also included a costly but necessary seismic retrofitting that will allow the buildings in the nursing complex to better withstand earthquakes. The full renovation of two residential blocks – two stories each with 40 rooms apiece – as well as an administrative block were recently completed.
It’s a nice concept but the golden years are not guaranteed for everybody. Despite their past and current hardships, the people in Artsakh that end up in the Stepanakert Nursing Home cannot be sure they’ll be able to live their lives comfortably in their old age. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the nursing home – or Armenia Fund, through the contributions of its supporters – from trying to build a place where the people who are there can feel like whatever happens, there is a part of their life that glistens like gold.