Fleeing Syria, Salbi Keleshian-Momjyan lost everything when she le: Aleppo for the safety of Armenia. But her new life is the discovery of her roots and of her new passion, painting.
According to official data, 25.000 Syrian Armenians leave in Armenia. Most of them still face problems like shortage of housing and employment. Syrian Armenians have brought their culture to Armenia. Many of them do not want to leave the country.
Salbi Keleshian-Momjyan is one of thousands of Syrians who have moved to Armenia years ago. She has been living in Armenia for 5 years already. She says that she has regained herself and finally pratices drawing, which has always been her hobby.
Salbi Keleshian-Momjyan (speaks with accent)
I regained myself in Armenia. If I stayed there, I would not be able to do this. As soon as I came here my dreams have come true. I have never learnt to draw; I have never
attended any respective university to learn drawing. I have been drawing for eight months already. I am very happy, each day I spend 15 hours to sit and to draw.
Salbi has only two drawings on her as a memory from Syria.
I drew those two when I was 20 years old. Those are my mother and father, and this one is my husband’s father.
Salbi was born in Syria, she has three daughters. One of them lives in the United States.
She has not seen her daughter for three years already. In the very corner of the apartment were she draws one may see her daughter’s photos. The situation has calmed down in the Armenian districts of Syria, though it is rather early to speak of the final peace.
I have relatives in Syria – my sister, brother live there. My brother usually visits Armenia.
My husband’s sisters and brothers- all of them are in Syria. All of them witness the existing situation over there, everything is rather complicated.
Q:- What do you mean by saying that it is rather complicated?
A:- In a result of those bombings there is no water, no light.
Syrian family has only one serious issue in Armenia – it is obliged to rent an apartment.
Salbi also pays all the expenses, she takes part in various exhibiCons, tries to sell her pictures.
Q: - What did you get from Armenia? What did you get within those five years?
A:- I regained myself, I practice my hobby.
According to official data, 25.000 Syrian Armenians, approximately 5000 families, live in Armenia as of 2017. They have brought their own culture and history to Armenia; some of them have brought the taste of Syria, as Yolamd Sabounjian’s family did. They are engaged in production of Syrian pastries.
We are Armenians; first of all we are Armenians, then Syrians. We do not own any market; we prepare everything where we live. We have seen so many deaths. We still feel the fear. We left: everything and moved to Armenia. We brought nothing, but the clothes in which we were dressed when moving to Armenia.
Vani Nalbandian-Yepremian is one of those Syrian Armenians who has moved to Armenia and is currently engaged in activities of the “Syrian Armenians Union” NGO to support Armenians with the same destiny. She insists that currently Armenian market is not enough for Syrian Armenians; they try not only to earn their living, but to achieve more.
«Syrian Armenians Union » NGO
We are not saCsfied with what we have, we will move further to have more. In general those people who work hard, they intend to stay in Yerevan.
By the end of the day Salbi Keleshian-Momjyan returns home and starts to draw. Positive colours prevail in her work.