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Reference : V-P-AM-E-00507
Date : 19/03/2021
Country/Region : ARMENIA
Caption : Yerevan. A teenager is having tea with his grandparents. The escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in autumn 2020 forced him and his family to flee their hometown and seek refuge in the capital city.
Photographer : BALAYAN, Areg
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website, article, 27.09.2021.
"My love for music comes from my grandfather who used to play shvi, Armenian traditional pipes and had a refined taste in folk songs," the young trumpeter recalls. When he turned eight, his mother took him to a music school for classical trumpet lessons. This was the first step towards his goal of becoming a professional musician. "I remember calling our relatives, putting the phone on speaker mode and playing the trumpet for them," he laughs. "Only after playing would I talk to them."
He recalls his hometown and its serenity with affection. "As someone who was born after the 1990s, I had no inkling that war was just around the corner and that one day it would erupt again," he says. In autumn 2020, just a few days before the hostilities resumed, he had joined a music college. Three weeks in, his studies were interrupted by the sound of shelling over their town. He spent two days hiding in a basement with his mother, but soon it was too dangerous to stay there. His family had to leave their hometown, never to return. "We only managed to grab some clothing, a few documents and my trumpet. It's such a pity we didn't take any family photographs. They were so precious to me," he says with a sigh.
Since being displaced, he has been trying his best to come to terms with the new reality of his life. "No matter how small the art environment in my hometown, I thrived in it. I grew up and went to school there, all my friends were there," he says wistfully. Memories of home were even more painful when the family found itself in an overcrowded dormitory without decent living conditions. There was no place to study or play music. Initially, he couldn't bring himself to pick up his trumpet or study. "I thought I would never be able to continue my education because of war," he says.
"After a while, together with my friends, I decided to play music in the streets. We were noticed by the head of a music school in Yerevan and he invited us to form a band and give concerts together with other displaced children. Music saved us! Simple things like going out, meeting new people, playing songs and being creative became the only ways of overcoming my despair and fears," he adds. He has been pursuing new opportunities that have been coming his way. Getting a proper education to become a professional musician is what drives him the most. Which is why, after living in Yerevan for a few months, he decided to go back to the music college and create a band with other students and musicians.
He now lives with his grandparents, who also fled their village because of the conflict. And while life appears to have returned to some semblance of normality, he still cannot travel back to his hometown. "It seems to me that war can break out at any time," he says. "I don't know what will happen tomorrow, and maybe I'll have to interrupt my studies again. Earlier, I could dream and make plans, but now I can't." Despite these thoughts, he does not want to give up on his dreams."
Original material : digital
Resolution : 6240x4160
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour