YEREVAN — For Hovig Ashjian and his family, life in Aleppo, Syria, was happy before the war. He worked as a jeweler at the workshop he owned, while his wife Tamara was a chef. His 16-year-old daughter Rita went to school.
But when the conflict came and tore the country apart, his family — who were part of an 80,000-strong Syrian-Armenian community—were forced to flee.
“I lost everything I had – my house, my work, my car,” recalled Ashjian. “Everything I cherished disappeared in an instant. We were scared. We thought there was nowhere else we could go to but to Armenia, the land of our ancestors.”
In the autumn of 2012, Ashjian and his family left for Armenia. It took them three hours just to navigate the 20-minute road from their home to the airport. “We were afraid to look back,” said Hovig. “We scarcely escaped the shelling.”
They found safety and a new life in Armenia, but had to leave all their belongings behind.
“My daughter cherishes the hope that her Bible and DVDs have survived and they are kept somewhere safe in the corner of her room,” said Ashjian, sadly. “She cannot accept that our house is completely ruined and that there is nothing left.”