I am lonely and miss talks with neighbours

How can I be afraid of the pandemic? I’m living without any means and I’m still alive! I don’t even die. #HumansofCOVID19

Galina Amirkhanyan Tatev Hovhannisyan
16 April 2020, 12.37pm

I’m 84 years old. For the last fifteen years, I've been living alone in a shack in a village in Armenia without water and electricity. For my basic needs, I’m forced to carry buckets of water and chop wood to heat the shack.

I got this woodshed from my elderly neighbours. For five years I’ve been taking care of them and they let me live in their garden shack.

When I first came here, there were only mice, nothing else. I don’t even have any property documents or the residence registration. That’s why I don’t receive any allowance from the state.

My only income is the pension [40,000 AMD - around 80 USD]. That’s what I live on.

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I’ve always had a tough life since my childhood. I was raised in difficult circumstances. I was 18 when my mother passed away. Then I was alone, without family and relatives. I suffered a lot in my whole life.

Regular washing of hands is said to prevent the infection. But I don’t have any drop of running water in my shack, so how can I fight against the pandemic?

For many years, I worked in the Alaverdi Copper Factory and I had a first-floor apartment as a factory employee. At that apartment, I always had plumbing problems and had to clean all the drain water by myself.

Then I got married, and had a daughter. My husband died suddenly and I raised our daughter alone. Years later, she got married and had seven boys. I brought up and supported them. I was always there for my family. I even sold my apartment to get money for my son-in-law’s treatment. But now I’m all alone.

The quarantine made my life more difficult. Yesterday I woke up to find out I have no medicine left. The lockdown left me no other chance than walking a few kilometres to buy the necessary medicine.

I don't have anything in my life

Amid the coronavirus, regular washing of hands is said to prevent the infection. But I don’t have any drop of running water in my shack, so how can I fight against the pandemic?

For maintaining my personal hygiene, every day I get two or three buckets of water from the neighbours’ houses or the nearby school.

The schoolchildren used to give me a hand. Even during the quarantine, when the school is closed, they’re passing by me and ask: “Granny, what can we do for you? We can bring you water or wood.” I assume that they will be the only ones who will cry and mourn me after my death.

I’m not scared of coronavirus or death. I don’t have anything in my life but I’m still alive. I don’t even die. What can I do if my death hasn’t come yet?

The worst thing about the lockdown and social distancing is that I can’t talk to my neighbours. I don’t worry about myself, but I’m scared for them. I wish the pandemic to be over so I can have my small talks with them and feel alive again.

[As told to Tatev Hovhannisyan]

People over the age of 65 are more at risk of getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. Over 15% of the Armenian population are aged 70 and over. At the time of publication, Armenia reported twelve COVID-19 related deaths and nine of these were of people aged 70. Armenia has declared a COVID-19 related state of emergency and people are required to stay indoors unless they are shopping for groceries or medicine.

This story is part of our Humans of COVID-19 project: lifting up voices from across the world that are not being heard during this crisis. Click here for more of these stories

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