Plight of Elderly Armenians in Javakhk

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Javakhk, called Samstekh-Javakheti by Georgians,—a historically Armenian region in the southern part of the Republic of Georgia—remains a forgotten fabric in our modern-day pursuit to help our homeland develop.

The earliest mention of Javakhk can be found in the notes of Armenian King Argishti I of Urartu in 785 BC. In its ancient history, Javakhk remained under the control of the Artashes and Arshakuni Kingdoms as a part of the Gugark province of Greater Armenia.

Over the next several hundred years, Javakhk succumbed to Arab invasion but was eventually liberated by the Armenian Bagratids. Regardless of foreign rule, the Armenian Church kept its influence in Georgia.  Following the Armenian Genocide, large groups of Western Armenians who fled their homes settled in parts of Javakhk. By 1914, there were close to 83,000 Armenians in the area.

Today, the Armenians of Javakhk live in harsh conditions. Unemployment is rampant, and national discrimination, mistrust towards Georgian authorities, and poor power supply are among some of the main concerns of the Armenian community. These factors have contributed to thousands of people abandoning their native villages for Russia and other countries for better opportunities leaving behind elderly people with disabilities who are single and in need.

A Humanitarian aid program in the form of food and basic necessities to elderly people living in the villages of region was brought up to our attention by Spartak Berikyan, 23-year-old resident of Akhalkalak region in Javakhk. The disabled elderly try to survive in very poor conditions, but it becomes more difficult with age, especially for those who do not have children or other sources of support. Many of them live in dilapidated houses.

Thanks to the financing of American-Armenian benefactors, Spartak travels and distributes much-needed food and basic necessities to the vulnerable elderly in this harsh region in the Republic of Georgia.

It is hard to imagine if your parents or grandparents were left alone at an old age without any family support. No elderly person should live in such conditions. Currently, Karine Aboolian and Lily Savadian are spearheading the “One family at a time” project.