“I felt myself in the shoes of my compatriots and realized I could help them.”

Published: Aug 18, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
World Humanitarian Day: Cover photo
© Photo: Laura Arshakyan

The war in Nagorno-Karabakh left an indelible mark on everybody. Yet, some like Arpine Mkrtchyan rose to the challenge of becoming a humanitarian aid worker to make a difference after the war. 

Arpine, 45 years old, lives in the city of Goris, in one of the frontier regions of Armenia. Goris was subjected to regular shelling and attacks, creating an atmosphere of constant danger. It was then that Arpine understood the importance of constant care and support for those in need.

Arpine had worked in the education sector for 25 years; however, two years ago, she changed her career trajectory and joined us to work in the humanitarian field. As she states: “I have always worked in the public sector, and I have never perceived myself as a non-governmental organisation employee. However, after the war, I suffered psychologically and felt myself in the shoes of my compatriots, who suffered from displacement and casualties. I realised I should empathise with and help them. Thus, I started working at People in Need which enabled me to do what I hadn’t been capable of doing so far. By helping people, I feel delighted. This is my source of energy which inspires me to do more and more”.

Arpine began her career at PIN as a field assistant and is now a vocational counsellor. She is responsible for advising beneficiaries on their further participation in appropriate courses for their preferred job, as well as for facilitating their job searches in accordance with their skills and knowledge.

To mark World Humanitarian Day on August 19, we asked her how it feels to be a humanitarian aid worker and what are the biggest challenges faced working in the field. To our question, Arpine answers, “I learned to listen and empathise simultaneously. This was yet unknown for me for 25 years while working in the educational sector. Now I realise how important it is to listen to someone to be able to share their emotions and sorrows, to empathise with them. What refers to the biggest challenges, in my opinion, is understanding a person to help achieve their needs”.

Being an aid worker results in difficulties when combined with family life; however, Arpine doesn’t face any, as she enjoys her work. A day filled with positive vibes contributes to the well-being of her family, as she appreciates each moment with her loved ones, and she loves sharing with them what she covered during her day.

“When you feel self-sufficient at the end of the day, it means you succeed in your job. It means it is your best working day. After work, I prefer to be around my family, friends and relatives. I also like to read—mostly the stories about my village Karahunge”, notes Arpine Mkrtchyan.

Overall, humanitarian aid workers should be appreciated as they risk their lives to save and support others by providing life-saving assistance to those who face conflicts, natural or man-made disasters and poverty.

According to the Global Humanitarian overview, in 2022, 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection. This number is an increase when compared to that of last year, which showed there were 235 million people in need. Fortunately, Armenia is not in the top 10 countries in need of humanitarian help. However, after the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the humanitarian work and the value of its workers have become more appreciated. 

Autor: Elma Vardanyan , Communication Assistant