Sara Khojoyan, Journalist
I met 40-year-old Ani Melkonyan in her hairdressing salon in Yerevan. I was impressed by her positive attitude to everyone and everything. When Ani first stepped into Armenia, her third baby 8-months-old boy, Gevorg, was still too young to walk. It took her, the baby, her 43-year-old husband Mikayel Karabed, older son and daughter 37 hours by bus to leave Syria and reach Armenia in September 2011.
Ani’s family was the first to come to Armenia as refugees after civil war in Syria broke out. They had only $300 in their pocket and after 10 days had to refer to the government and international organizations for support. It took them three years to navigate the difficulties/challenges of a new society, new rules and obligations, new economic conditions and regulations and to finally start their own journey of life in a new place with a hairdressing salon in a suburb of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. “The Armenian government, Migration Service and UNHCR were our supporters in our fight. It would not be possible to survive and start thinking of the future without their support. So, now we can move on,” says Ani’s husband, Mikayel.
It is already a week that Ani operates her salon and she adopts a positive attitude to everyone and everything. “We love each other in our family, we love our motherland Armenia, we love people, and our love comes back to us. We need to keep positive to attract positive. It is difficult everywhere,” Ani shares her approach to life. She is happy that now, when all the difficulties are in the past, her children are happy with their move and didn’t suffer from all the horrible pictures of war that her relatives have to endure in Syria today. “I can work in peace today and make dreams of my children come to life. Life is about fighting for a better future,” Ani says.