Home is where family is

Photographer: Nelli Shishmanyan

Topic: Children

A few years after his divorce, Artyom Manukyan, 34, suddenly found himself raising two girls on his own. 

The girls, Ani and Anahit, had originally lived with their mother after the divorce. But after about two years, she could no longer care for them so the state granted Artyom sole custody. The situation was complex: In Gyumri, Armenia, where the girls lived, he didn’t have anyone to care for them while he was at work. So, he made the only decision he could: in 2019, he petitioned Our Lady of Armenia, a Catholic convent, care and education center, to take the girls temporarily. 

While the girls were safe and well cared for at Our Lady of Armenia, the weekly visits with their father were not enough: they wanted to go home. 

After nearly five years apart, Artyom was finally able to ensure they would get the care they needed at home, with him. This is their story.

Artyom supports his two daughters, Ani and Anahit, as a construction worker in Gyumri, Armenia.

After nearly five years apart, Artyom is raising his girls on his own. Today, his life is a constant balance between work and his girls’ needs.

When the girls lived in the care center, Artyom visited them every week.

In the glass cabinet, there are framed photos of Anahit and Ani, pictures taken when they were in first grade and warm letters from their school days addressed to their father.

Artyom and his family lost their home during the devastating earthquake that destroyed Gyumri in 1988. Today, he and the girls have made the temporary building a safe, warm and inviting home.

Artyom prepares food in advance to ensure the girls have something to eat when they get home from school.

Ani and Anahit are very close to each other. They don't argue with each other when they stay alone at home.

As he has no washing machine in his small house, on Sundays he makes the laundry at his mother house.

This is one of the many photos Artyom has of the girls. He has captured nearly every moment of their childhood and preserved the images carefully.

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