Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2 Jars of Pears

Almost all of us took pictures of the same thing: the 2 jars of wild pears that Margarita canned late last summer.

I didn't ask what they meant to my colleagues on the World Vision trip to Armenia, but I knew what they meant for me.

For the past hour we had sat in Margarita and Gegham's dark yet tidy living room, warming ourselves by the wood stove in the middle. We talked with Gegham first, as Margarita was on her way home from school with Tigran, their eldest son. Tigran suffered seizures at age two and now, at 7, has paralysis on his right side and developmental delays.

Margarita attends school with him, whenever possible, to give him extra help. He qualifies for physical therapy, but the family cannot afford the transportation costs to get them from their tiny village to a clinic, so Margarita does most of it on her own.

Margarita's dedication and determination reminded me so much of other mamas I know, who stay right there in it, at school and at home, making sure their kids get what they need as far as extra help and support.

The alphabet poster on the wall reminded me of the one that hung on my pantry door when the kids were little, and the joy it was to support them as they learned their letters.

(Tigran writes with his left hand now, b/c of paralysis on his right side)
Margarita is a regular mom, dealing with the challenges of raising two young boys, but with the additional burden of groaning debt brought on by Tigran''s 20-day hospitalization years ago and exacerbated by long harsh winters that make growing enough food extremely difficult.

Gegham is a hard-working and industrious man, and last summer he managed to rent a tractor and make enough money to sustain them for almost the entire winter. They paid the rent, grew potatoes,  and purchased firewood.

Until now.

Which leads us to the pears.

There is another room of their crumbling, communist-era home, which sits unused and unheated because of fear that the damaged roof will cave in. Margarita uses the room for cold storage, and on a small table are two jars of pears, all that remain of her canning the summer before.

Our visit is the last week in February, a long way off from the next growing season in this part of Armenia, one that lasts a scant 2-3 months. These pears are what Magarita and Gegham have left. To her disappointment, some of the other jars of fruit she had canned had gone bad and grown murky and moldy, so this was it.

And there the similarities between our lives ended.

Sure, I could tell Margarita that on the other side of the world I have a daughter who shares her name.
Yes, I had delighted in teaching my kids their letters, and I hope I had been as good an advocate as she had when my own kids faced difficulties (although I always think I could have done more). But I never once wondered if we would have enough to feed them.

I never once faced this on laundry day:

In feeling connected one mother-heart to another with Margarita, I could no longer deny the extreme differences in our situations.

Margarita will continue to work with her kids on their schooling, bake the bread, and can the fruits and vegetables. Gegham will find a way to rent a tractor again this summer.

But they need more help emerging from the precipice in which jars of spoiled fruit truly make a difference. This help will come through sponsorship of their kids with World Vision. Both boys gained sponsors while we were there, and as World Vision gets established in their community, the family will be equipped to build even better lives for themselves.

They already have the love.

There are MANY more children in this village and region awaiting sponsorship, and perhaps YOUR family can help. Here's more information about sponsorship.

(photos by Laura Reinhardt and Amy Bellgardt)


Kim P. said...

Anna, thank you for chronicling your journey through Armenia for us. I had to play catch up and so I crammed them all into my lunch hour. It's been so humbling to read your blog posts. Tonight, I'm going to have my kids read all of these posts, for several reasons. The most important one is I most definitely want to sponsor a child and would like their input in which one. We already sponsor a little girl through Every Orphans Hope in Zambia. Honestly, I barely knew anything about Armenia before your trip. It has opened my eyes and put a strong desire in my heart to help, even a little. Again, thanks for enduring jet lag, freezing temps, and for using your words to help make a difference in these peoples lives. You are awesome. Hugs from Purcellville.

ReneeK said...

I've been reading your blog (and loving it) for a couple of years now, purchased and highly recommended your book, and am just now de-lurking to thank you for your posts about World Vision. I sponsored my first child through World Vision when I was 17 years old. He has since grown to adulthood and World Vision was able to withdraw their support from his community in the Philippines after many wonderful years. I was then given another sweet boy from the Philippines to sponsor. But I've never written to either of them. I've always felt guilty about all that I have, felt like there was nothing I could possibly say about myself that they could relate to or care about. My life is so easy compared to theirs. I don't know what I'm trying to say....maybe just that your posts have made me want to reach out to my current sponsor child and maybe even see if I could reach my first one. I guess I just don't know what to say to them...
Anyway, thank you for writing.

Unknown said...

That's so eye-opening, the photo including her laundry. And of course all the others. But that one really struck me.

I sponsor 2 children through another similar organization and I love that we are able to help in that way. But seeing it and actually being there must be such an amazingly different thing.