Earthquake Remembrance Day

Yesterday, December 7, was Earthquake Remembrance Day in memory of all the thousands of people who died in northern Armenia on December 7, 1988.

This picture won that year’s World Press Photo Award. I wonder what has become of the people in the picture. Are they still alive? Have they been able to rebuild their lives? Do they still live in Gyumri or have they fled the earthquake zone or maybe Armenia altogether? If they still live in Gyumri, do they have decent permanent housing by now or do they still live in one of those “temporary” domiks?

4 thoughts on “Earthquake Remembrance Day

  1. Hi myrthe these people probably are out of country. I am from gyumri you know? I lived in those domikss for ten years before leaving to the US for studies on scholarship, but my parents still live in those domiks in gyumri, and there is no chance for them to get any kind of housing from the screwed up Armenian government of kocharian or anybody after him. despite all the diaspora armenian claims to the opposite. i know a whole lot of them young energetic typically handsome armenians from diaspora that don’t even give shaista anout gyumri as long as they have cafe glasse in the vicinity of the opera house. anyways mad as hell, but what can i do from here but vent my anger at the government and the opposition for abandoning my beautiful city for the rotten yerevan.

  2. I have only once been to Gyumri five years ago for maybe 24 hours, but as you might know I spend a lot of time in Spitak. Now I live in Yerevan, but for me Spitak is my “hometown” in Armenia, it is where I have spent by far most of my time in Armenia over the last 5+ years.
    Most of my friends in Spitak live in the district that was built after the earthquake and quite a few of my friends still live in what was supposed to be temporary living quarters, but they’ve been living there for about 14 years or so.
    People in Spitak also have lots of problems in getting a supposedly free voucher for one of the appartments newly built by the state or the Lincy Foundation. Of course, free is not free in Armenia, so only those who can shove a little extra money are able to get the apartment they’re entitled to. And there are lots of other stories to tell. The people who need help the most, are left in the cold the most.

  3. Artyom, maybe the Armenian government believes in the ‘trickle down’ theory – meaning that when Yerevan gets wealthy, the money will sart flowing to the ‘shrjanner’ (shrjanner means regions – a semi derogatory term used by Yerevantsi to describe the area outside Yerevan).

  4. Although, a good number of people still live in domeeks and inadequate housing, with some making their home the streets, I think it is important to remember those that came to the aid of Armenia during, and for years after, the December 7, 1988, earthquake that devasted the country, especially those in the earthquake region. Until today, many Diasporans continue to help, including non-Armenians, the struggling country. Unfortuantely, there are some who never get to see or are interested in seeing how a great many of the people in the regions live. But those are only some. Many do care and continue to help Armenia in various ways.

    It is unfortunate, though, that those in Armenia, who have the capability to make changes and to help their fellow countryman, seem to not be at all affected by the plight of those who still live in places that, in some cases, are not even fit for dogs to live in! I have seen people in Gyumri who still live in moldy and rusted domeeks or metal containers, and there are people who live in buildings that are actually shells of buildings on the outskirts of town. They were being built right after the earthquake for those that were left homeless, but for various reasons, the buildings were left unfinished. In those unfinished, crumbling concrete and rusting metal places people–men, women, and children–mee gerbov abroom en, somehow are living. But what kind of living is that? Are they not also citizens of Armenia?

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