Monday- the below entry didn’t make it up- old news for me already for me- spent a full day in Gyumri and have a much more complete photo series to work on the flight back to NYC. Gyumri is the place in Armenia that has most captured my interest behind the camera.
back blog-Sunday in Yerevan, having a beer in an Internet café near where I’m staying. Today I shot in Vandazor at a home for elderly people that FAR is respondisble for. The residents seemed very happy to get the extra attention my visit brought them .I had Lusy (who works for FAR) ask questions to each of the people, like how long they lived there and who they came to the home. Most of the residents’ children’s were off in Russia where they went to find work and were brought to the facility so they would be cared for. The residents will live out their days there.
Tomorrow my last day of this trip I will return to Gyumri to shoot at a music school for kids and shoot more of the people who are living in “containers.” After the earthquake that almost leveled the town 20 years ago this December, many people were given metal containers to live in. At first I was shocked that people were living in such abject conditions, then I learned a bit more of the story. Like New Orleans’ recovery the story is not black and white. Many of the people who are still living in containers have recovered grant money- only to squander it or buy apartments and sell them to others yet remaining in there contraries. The containers are make shift metal shacks, and were not made to withstand 20 years of habitation and many of them are clearly hazards places to live. I heard how many have burnt to death when there containers catch fire due to make shift stoves and how others freeze to death in the harsh winter.
People were happy to tell their stories, just like Victims of Katrina, and invited me into their homes to photograph. I will shoot as many interiors as I can tomorrow, and learn more about Gyrumri past and present.
I have also had the chance to visit some of Armenia’s churches dating back to the 4th century. Notes and images of those places to follow.