Originally, Armenian photojournalist Anahit Hayrapetyan started working on a project to record how Soviet-era buildings in her home city of Yerevan were now being used for different purposes.
She visited one that had been a guesthouse for workers at a factory but now was permanent home for several families.
But when she started to speak to the people who lived in these bleak blocks her focus changed to them. And she began to record the life of one thirteen-member unit who existed in just four rooms.
“I became close to Marie, her two children, her parents, her grandmother and seven siblings who were all living in those four small rooms – a main one, a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom,” says 30-year-old Anahit, who now works with Eurasianet and attended World Press Photo seminars in 2005 and 2006.
“It was fascinating to see Marie’s courage and purposefulness in these terrible conditions. She plans in detail and looks forward to the future with great hope.
I shared my impressions and photos on Facebook and, luckily, people started to respond and ask how they could bring clothes and food for those families. I told them where the buildings were so they could help.
The story has been included in the United Nations “Young People at Risk” project and I have continued working on the story. Altogether it took some months. Marie’s family became used to me and stopped observing me as I took photos of them.
Recently Mari’s family moved to a village. She called me and said that everything was good. I am planning to follow changes in her life and will visit her again.”