GUMRI, Armenia (shabat.am) – Yesterday [August 17], several people became greatly upset when I published pictures of [Olympic wrestler] Artur [Aleksanyan]’s school.
This [see photos] is the “domik” or shack of Gor Minasyan, who won a silver medal in the Olympics. His family has lived here for years. We have said for years that there are around 3,500 to 4,000 families in the city — nobody knows the exact figure — who are homeless. One out of seven or eight people in the city is homeless. Gor is too.
One out of seven or eight of our champions is the child of shacks, having been born in shacks, having gone to school while in a shack, to stores, barbers, and training schools in shacks, and till now is still in a shack.
Gor lives in a neighborhood of shacks at Gumri’s bus station. There are 96 neighborhoods of shacks in the city. During the last 28 years, of course the number of their shacks decreased. They are identified by two three-digit numbers. The first three-digit figure is the number of the quarter of the shacks, while the second three-digit figure is the number of the shack in the quarter. They consist of 2 to 3 up to 300 shack households.
They are all rotten and in ruins. In some cases, the owners have succeeded in covering them with stones and wood, but the conditions are unbearable. It is not possible to describe them. You could not understand through any film what it is without living there for a few days. You could not imagine it.
In many huts, they place bread for the rats in passages between the floor and the walls so that they do not creep into other places, especially in the winter, when they go under blankets and gnaw on children’s ears and fingers. In the summer, these huts practically turn red from the sun’s heat. It is not possible to breathe then. In the winter, half an hour after turning off the furnace, it becomes an icebox. In the morning, water is frozen. You have to break the surface of the ice of the container so that you can wash yourself. The holes in the floor are covered by thick rugs. They are no longer subject ot repair. These huts were intended for two or three years of use. However already people have been born and lived there 28 years, with marriages, first nights, and removing the dead from the window because it is cramped.