In the month of July 2005, for two entire weeks, Aida Chamlian (with the support and assistance of her husband Haytoug), held and animated a children’s Summer Camp, in Shoushi.
Their two children Dessyl and Badrouyk were with them, and participated in the event.
The project was prepared and funded by Aida and Haytoug, who also brought with them all the necessary material, supplies and equipments.
Naregatsi Art Institute, through its volunteers Julia and Briony (later joined by Seta), was happy to contribute to this initiative by providing the proper locale, forming the initial group of children, and offering any required logistic support.
Here are some comments made by Aida and Haytoug, at the end of this formidable humanitarian experience:
- “The Children of Shoushi are not sad. And if some of their parents sometimes are, that is perhaps because they do not sufficiently realize their most essential and primary accomplishment, the proof of which is found in the constant and radiant smiles of their children. Even in the most extreme privation, the children of Shoushi play, laugh and have fun.”
- “One of our objectives was also to have our children become close friends with the children of Artsakh, so that, from their early age, they come to know and to appreciate the extraordinary people of Artsakh. The Armenia-Diaspora link is that essential bridge which makes our Homeland stronger, which gives strength to its people, its builders. This time, we came here not to visit, but to work, to make our humble contribution to our land, to alleviate a tiny bit the enormous burden of our compatriots. The people of Artsakh should know that they are not alone, that they are not stranded, that Armenians all over the world are ready and willing to be by their side, physically, in any circumstance.”
- “The children of Shoushi do not want anything special. They really don’t ask for much. Their parents take good care of them, and they do not lack any affection. They are joyful and dynamic, they smile a lot, and they don’t miss an occasion to laugh and to have fun. They are children, who just want to be children. However, they would like to be assured that they are not cut off from the rest of the world. They wish to establish real contacts, substantial and durable ties, with their Armenian compatriots, elsewhere, anywhere. They would like, for instance, that those huge and shiny buses full of tourists stay a bit longer in their town, instead of just passing through, after a minimal visit of less than an hour.”
- “All the children were clean, properly dressed, polite, intelligent, proud and self-assured. Some of them are obviously undernourished, though. During mealtime, a few had some indigestion problems, probably because of the prolonged period of hunger preceding the ingestion of food. But they are all remarkably strong. During the whole two weeks, we did not have even a simple case of the common cold in the whole group.”
- “The camp was supposed to start at 2:00 p.m., but an hour before, most of the kids were already gathered in front of the main door. We would then start a match of soccer or some games, outside, until Aida could complete the preparations for the day. Hours of activities would ensue, filled with laughter, with joyful shouting, with total communion, fulfillment and pure moments of grace. The session was supposed to end at 6:00 p.m., but it was always extended way beyond. Then, in the evening, we would encounter some of the kids in the street, and they would invite us pressingly into their homes.”
- “At one point, we had a big picnic at Djederdouze, a superb hilltop above the cliff from were our combatants surprised the occupiers, during the operation of the liberation of Shoushi. In this place, where gunfire and explosions had resounded, we would now hear the laughter and the cries of joy of the children. Julia had brought a colorful kite, which flew very high, until the end of its rope, and the kids took turns to make it go round and round in the dazzling sky, for several hours. Then, at the end, while we were leaving, the rope got stuck in electrical wires along the road, and the kite continued to float in the air, very high, in the powerful wind that was blowing from the valley. We departed from the hill by leaving it there, in the vibrant blue sky, like some kind of a symbolic flag, in this place where the crucial victory of Shoushi was achieved.”
- “In final analysis, we did not give much to the children of Shoushi. But we learned a lot from them. It is they, who comforted us.”