Honoring the freedom fighters who served our nation is not just about celebrating their victories and sacrifices; it is about empathizing with their current-day struggles and challenges.
This past December, a young repatriate living in Kapan did exactly that. She took it upon herself to aid in the medical treatment of the son of a local Azadamardik, a brave 11-year old boy named Alex Poghossian.
Alex was born with a condition called Spina Bifida (“Split Spine”), a development disorder caused by the incomplete formation of the spinal cord and its coverings. At only 9 days old, he had to undergo spinal surgery. Since then, he has endured various health problems, the most critical of them being a severe case of club feet.
Unfortunately, Alex’s family could not afford the proper treatment for their son. He had been walking on the side of his ankles for years, causing his right foot to develop an ulcer which became dangerously infected and spread down to the bone. It risked requiring amputation.
A repatriate from Canada living in Kapan (who requested to remain anonymous for this article) soon met Alex through the Hope and Faith Center of Kapan and was devastated by what she saw.
“I took one look at his ankle, amazed he wasn’t screaming in pain and turned away,” she said recalling her first encounter with Alex. “His foot was so severely infected that his bone was clearly visible. There was no protective bandaging. I knew this child was in need of immediate medical care.”
Despite his aversion toward accepting anything for free, she convinced Alex’s father to allow her to take him to Yerevan to see Dr. Garen Koloyan, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Yerevan.
Alex’s father (also named Aleksan) is a freedom fighter who fought in the Shushi battalion, helping lift that important town from Azeri control. He is a truly devoted man who internalized the cause of his nation and went to the frontline for Artsakh. Today, he works in Kapan, eking out a very modest living.
“Aleksan has gunshot wounds all over his body,” says Araz Artinian, another repatriate doing humanitarian work in Armenia familiar with this story. “He’s a real survivor.” She adds, “However, the news that his son might need a foot amputation broke him into pieces.”
The father traveled with his son to see Dr. Koloyan. They decided to keep Alex there for two months to try to fight the infection. After treating him with antibiotics and several surgeries, the infection was successfully cleared up, forestalling Alex’s foot from amputation.
Alex is now back in Kapan for another month. If the infection does not return, they will move forward and perform a surgery to straighten out Alex’s foot. If it does, the risk of amputation is still a possibility.
This story is one out of many in Armenia of families going without critical medical care. In this instance, a repatriate took it upon herself to circumvent the obstacles and directly aid a humble family in need. Donations from supporters in the Diaspora were certainly part of the larger effort which made the care possible.
Humanitarian work in Armenia is not always simple or seamless but is certainly needed. This is perhaps all the more true for the veterans and their families who have given so much to our nation in its time of need.
To find out more about Alex’s treatment and how to support him and his family, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.