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Naturalized RC in Armenia

I am a physical therapist and a psychotherapist. My first exposure to RC was about twelve years ago through the mother of one of my daughter's friends. After the devastating earthquake in Armenia in the winter of 1988-89, I volunteered for a year to head up a project teaching Armenian young men to make Western-style prostheses. (As all the buildings are made of stone and/or concrete, many people had suffered amputations.) Upon my return to the United States, I acquired a wonderful job. After three years, with a change of management, I lost it. I decided to return to Armenia as an independent volunteer and live with an Armenian family.

As Armenia was and is completely blockaded, we had water for only limited periods each day and never knew when or for how long we would have electricity. Our life often revolved around the unknown hour or two when we had electricity.

I ended up at the Research Institute of Medical Radiology, where those who worked at Chernobyl are regularly monitored. The people who were there during the explosion and those who worked there after are filled with rage that no one had told them of the dangers and possible long-term effects of working there and with frustration that nothing is being addressed or even acknowledged.

I had several experiences that set me on the path of communicating naturalized RC in Armenia:

Louisa was twenty-four, and a month previous had lost her two-year-old second child. He had suffered massive infections from burns from spilled boiling water. (Water is heated when we have electricity and stored under blankets on the cupboard. It is carried to wherever it is needed, and frequently the lights go out while this is happening.) Louisa's sister-in-law, Goharik, was with her, suffering her own grief, as the child had died in her arms. The first day, a Tuesday, I did not work with Louisa much as she was very quiet and reserved. I spent an hour with Goharik, fifteen minutes of it in a tight mutual hug, a long hug without words. I suggested that she and Louisa talk together every day, sharing time. On Friday, Louisa returned with her daughter. She was radiant. It was obvious the healing had begun. This time we talked about how she could work with her daughter. I saw the whole family again the week before I left Armenia.

Hasmik had worked at Chernobyl as a cook during the cleanup after the explosion. She was red and livid with rage! I got her to cry a little and gave complete attention to her feelings while giving her deep massage. Her comment expressing relief: "I never thought there was a way out, that I would not have to live with this forever." Again I suggested that Hasmik and a friend talk and share time. Hasmik had released some of the shackles of Chernobyl and began looking forward to living again.

Lermont came to me for ringing in the ears (something I am completely untrained to address). I had been informed that his twenty-year-old son had been killed in Karabach some four months previous. (I was always given this information as an aside, as though it had no connection to the current condition-"Oh, by the way, her baby died a month ago," or, "His son was killed four months ago, but that is not important.") I asked the translator to ask him if he wanted to tell me about his son. He started and couldn't stop, talking in Armenian for a solid hour. I didn't understand a word, and not a word was ever translated. I kept telling the translator not to interrupt the process, to just listen. In the middle, I went to him and put my hand lightly on his back. Though there was no common language, there was complete communication. We kept in touch with Lermont, and I heard that he was talking with other parents who had lost sons in the conflict with Azerbaijan.

How well they all did with no instruction other than to talk, listen, and share time!

Gay Goodhart
New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00