When Azerbaijan began their attacks on Armenia in 2020, Vahe Poghosyan was one of many brave young men in Armenia who volunteered to join the Armenian army to protect their homeland. He was sent to the border, an area constantly under heavy attack by Azerbaijan. During one of these attacks, a rocket hit the truck Poghosyan was riding in. Fourteen Armenian soldiers were killed that day; only three survived. One of those survivors was Poghosyan.
“I was covered in blood,” recalled Poghosyan. “I couldn’t see anything as there was shrapnel in both of my eyes.” Poghosyan spent the next eight and a half terrifying hours lying on the battlefield, bleeding and unable to see, until it was possible for someone to rescue him.
With only a few minutes left to live, Poghosyan was rescued and rushed to a hospital in Yerevan, where he was treated for almost one month. His eyesight was gone and all he could see was a sliver of light. Poghosyan thought he was going to be blind for the rest of his life. After escaping one traumatic experience of going through the war and losing his friends, Poghosyan was now experiencing another agonizing prospect: believing he would never be able to see again.
“I remember so vividly the effects of the first Karabakh war in Armenia,” recalls Dr. Roger Ohanesian, Founder and President of the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP.) “It was the unrest during that time that led to the beginning of the Armenian EyeCare Project. Now, 30 years later, I am happy to say that because of the AECP’s emphasis on medical education and training, doctors in Armenia are capable of performing complex surgeries and offering top-of-the-line eye care to their countrymen.”
Dr. Georgi Grigoryan, one of AECP’s very first fellows, successfully performed two complex surgeries on Poghosyan’s eye, removing the shrapnel and replacing the lens. This allowed Poghosyan to be able to see again. “I can see my daughter’s beautiful smile now,” said Poghosyan with immense gratitude. After regaining his sight, life has drastically improved for Poghosyan as he is now able to work, drive and support his family once again.
“I am deeply grateful to all the donors of the AECP for saving my sight and allowing me to see again, to raise my child, to grow my family and to reach all my dreams,” said Poghosyan with a smile.
As Poghosyan walks up the hill to Yerablur, the burial site of Armenian soldiers who died protecting their homeland, the song praising the bravery of his fallen friends can be heard far and loud. He joins in on singing along to the patriotic song, honoring his fellow soldiers and feeling grateful to be alive.