Heather with Susanna (Warm Hearth resident)
A woman, Heather, who has known some of our residents for over ten years (before there even was a Warm Hearth), visited again this summer.
Here are her thoughts on our home:
I’ve been back to visit Armenia twice since I lived there from 2001-2003, when I fell in love with the country and the people. On those return visits, it’s been so good to reconnect, to savor the fresh, flavorful food, and to soak up the natural beauty of the country. At the same time, it’s disheartening to see that poverty persists, that roads remain potholed, and that many people remain desperate to leave and find a better life.
My visits to Warm Hearth have been bright spots in the midst of those harsh realities. The staff and the residents face real challenges, to be sure: neighbors remain largely unreceptive, space and funds are limited, a resident wonders why her mother and her sister no longer come to visit. But despite those challenges, they shine.
When I visited this summer, I was struck again by Alya’s firm commitment to the difficult work that’s done at Warm Hearth and the hope she has for growing acceptance of people with disabilities in Armenia. Davit and Gayane proudly displayed their work on the loom, Roman smiled broadly as he showed off the puzzle he was putting together, and Suzanna lit up when I admired the careful stitches she’d done on a tablecloth. The residents proudly gave my cousin and me a tour of the house and the well-tended plants in the yard, and they cheered each other on in a rousing back-porch bowling game with plastic pins and balls.
Armenia is a beautiful place. It’s far from perfect, and many Armenians would gladly leave if they could. At the same time, however, many of the nation’s generous, hospitable people face their challenges with beauty, grace, and strength – just as the staff and the residents of Warm Hearth continue to do.