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And yet when I visited a cluster of domiks behind a gas station in Gyumri this summer, the families living there welcomed me into their homes.One reason is that I’m traveling with Vahan Tumasyan.She and the other residents only wanted their first names used in the story.
The groups also tear down vacant domiks, providing work, distributing salvageable materials and firewood, and improving the neighborhoods.Only tremendous effort and ingenuity keep the domiks from being fatally cold in winter and ovens in summer.As I learned through interpreters, many of the domik families share a similar story: High unemployment drove a breadwinner to work abroad, often in Russia, but for reasons X, Y or Z, the money stopped coming. Tens of thousands died and some half a million were left homeless.
After local authorities realized how overmatched they were, shipping containers full of relief supplies flooded in.Through the Gyumri-based Shirak Centre aid group, he and others have been bringing domik residents firewood and food and have helped register them with authorities, so they’re officially “people” (with addresses).