Syrian-Armenian molder: “You either have to be a slave or fight. There is no other way…”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Syrian-Armenian molder and production accessories seller Garo Keshishian, who participated in the recent “New Perspectives for Syrian-Armenians” exhibition held at Yerevan Expo exhibition complex.

Hayern Aysor: Garo, what did you get out of the exhibition? Did you meet new people? Do you have customers? Did you sell items?

Garo Keshishian: This is the first time I am participating in this exhibition. Indeed, it was pleasant and interesting. I met new people and handed them my business cards. I hope I have more clients and customers after this. However, I sold almost nothing. Nevertheless, I attach great importance to such exhibitions and am grateful to all the organizers, supporters, guests, visitors and all those who are interested in doing something to help the Syrian-Armenians.

Hayern Aysor: Is molding an ancestral craft?

G. K.: No, it isn’t. A master molder taught me the craft in Syria. I had two factories in my hometown. One of them has been destroyed, but I don’t know anything about the other one. I’m currently molding in Armenia. My family and I are renting an apartment in the city of Abovyan of Kotayk Province. I have a studio there. I don’t pay much for the area since the person who provided the area is an acquaintance. Thank God, I can live and maintain my family.

Hayern Aysor: Are you content with your decision to settle in the Homeland?

G. K.: Yes! This is our home. A foreign country will always be foreign. My relatives left for Canada and Egypt and are convincing me and my parents to go, but I have made my decision and don’t want to go anywhere. We are finally on our land. Everyone around us is speaking in Armenian, not in Arabic or another language. It is in my Homeland where I have found my better half, Ala, who works as a tour guide for Hyur Service and was my tour guide during my tour in Armenia. We got married and started a happy family and will soon have a child. I want my child and future children to grow up in Armenia and always see Mount Masis.

Hayern Aysor: How long have you been living in Armenia?

G. K.: I have been living in Armenia for about four years. In the beginning, I came to tour, met my future wife, liked her and returned to get engaged. I came and stayed. My parents came 15 days later, and we all stayed here.

Hayern Aysor: Do you get paid enough to maintain a family?

G. K.: Thank God, I can. It’s a little hard, but I can find jobs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring my tools. I’m grateful to my partner, who gave me tools and space.

Hayern Aysor: How can people contact you to place an order?

G. K.: I have done a lot of work for Oval Plus Factory in Yerevan. I know them, and whenever there is work to do, they tell me. People find me by word of mouth and contact me. I hope things get better in the future.

Hayern Aysor: Have you adapted to conditions and the new environment in Armenia?

G. K.: Yes, we have. I’m a law-abiding person. We’re living in a country where laws haven’t been enforced very much. There are laws and they are strict. We need to abide by the laws. If we didn’t live on rent, we would have our own house and it would be better. I won’t leave the country. I haven’t met any bad person yet, though I know there are good and bad people everywhere.

Hayern Aysor: Are the Armenians in Armenia more patriotic, or the Syrian-Armenians?

G. K.: I think patriotism is an ordinary feeling for the Armenian who has lived in Armenia, but Armenians abroad feel more patriotic because they have the feeling of longing.

Hayern Aysor: During the first Karabakh war, many Diaspora Armenians participated in the struggle for the liberation of Karabakh. During and after the war that Azerbaijan unleashed in April, Armenians around the world spoke out and expressed their support to Artsakh. If, God forbid, military operations begin again, will you leave for the border?

G. K.: Of course! You either have to be a slave or a fighter. There is no other way.

Hayern Aysor: Thank you, Mr. Keshishian! May your first child be born a healthy child and, according to the traditional blessing of an Armenian that is also the blessing from the RA Ministry of Diaspora, we wish you sit around a table with seven sons.

Karine Avagyan

Scroll Up