Annalisa Natali Murri
Single women in Armenia often find it hard to escape poverty and destitution because they are paid very little, if they can get a job at all. But those living in Gyumri, the country’s second-largest city which still lives in the shadow of the massive earthquake of 1988, have a particularly hard time. Today, women make up 60 per cent of the town’s inhabitants, because so many men have left as migrant laborers after the earthquake. Most of them barely hold up. Almost all the buildings in the city were seriously damaged by the earthquake, leaving many without a place to stay. Even the LenTextile plant, hosting the second largest textile factory of the whole former URSS, was not spared. The Hostel, which once used to accommodate workers at the factory, was the only part of the whole establishment that remained partially undamaged. Now the plant is long closed, but 20 or so impoverished women, former workers at the LenTextile, decided not to leave the factory and that the hostel would have been their home. Some of them dedicated more than 30 years to the Len Textile: few have children, almost no one longer has an husband, as they went to Russia in search of a new job and never returned. These women are still living in the crumbling hostel alone, only relying on a basic social income of about 30 euros per month to survive.
A former textile worker wanders somberly through the corridors of the hostel. The hostel, which used to accommodate workers at Gyumri's LenTextile factory, was badly damaged in the earthquake in 1988. The plant now is long closed, but 20 or so families, almost exclusively women, still live in the hostel without men or a wage-earner.