Bringing Hope to the Elderly

By Ani Cholakian, former JMP Syria Director

Meet people that Jinishian cares for

Witnessing the gratitude of these elderly and their Christian testimonies gives the social workers inspiration to continue their work in the spirit of Jesus Christ.

In Syria, the Jinishian Memorial Program (JMP) operates under the sponsorship of the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Protestant church denominations.


Yeran proudly shows off her needlework. Photo by Ani Cholakian


Yeran, an 84-year-old widow, prepares needlework which she sells for a meager livelihood through friends and neighbors. She never had any children who would have become her caretakers as is tradition in the Syrian culture. With no social security benefits or other social protections, the income from her needlework is insufficient to cover her basic needs, and so she applied to the Jinishian Memorial Program for assistance. An often forgotten about population in society, Jinishian reaches out to the elderly to help them with their social, spiritual, medical and financial needs. Caring for the elderly can be an emotionally difficult and time consuming responsibility for a caregiver. Jinishian social workers are unable to always meet the demands of elderly care.

Luckily, Jinishian is not alone in caring for the elderly. Yeran has trusted neighbors whom are happy to help care for her.  During a home visit, when the Jinishian social worker inquired how Yeran manages the shopping and other errands, she immediately mentioned her helpful neighbors. She leaves a reserve key with the neighbors who check in on her several times during the day. The social worker has noted other cases in which Muslim and Christian neighbors care for lonely elderly living in the same apartment complexes, a symbol of the generous hospitality and blending of faiths within the Syrian culture.

Recently, Yeran stumbled and fell in her house. Although there were no broken bones, she was still feeling very weak. Jinishian was able to see that Yeran received good medical care. Still in bed, she continues preparing needle work for needed income to be partially self-sufficient. Yeran wholeheartedly thanks the Jinishian Program for caring and helping her with necessities; her heart is full of gratitude and she thanks God for Mr. Vartan Jinishian’s life and his will, which was a gift to alleviate suffering among his people, the Armenians.

Angel, a beneficiary of the Jinishian Elderly Care Program. Photo by Ani Cholakian


Like Yeran, Angel is an 82-year-old widow. She has been very ill for the past few years and has not been able to leave her apartment. Neighbors and relatives visit her and bring necessities. She is grateful for the moral and financial support she receives from Jinishian. She always thanks her Lord and reads the Bible regularly. She waits anxiously for the visit of the Jinishian social worker, who visits with her once a week and brings her hot lunches.

Mariam standing under the photos of her lost children. Photo by Ani Cholakian


Mariam is an 84-year-old widow who has endured the tragedy of losing her three children at a young age.  She spends most of her time near the pictures of her children, which she has placed throughout her small apartment. She has not left her 6th floor apartment, with no elevator, for many years because of illness.  She anxiously waits to be with her children in eternity. Until that time, she is thankful a Jinishian social worker is able to spend precious time with her. 

Garabed and Roza

The stairs that lead to their home and Roza inside their one room living area. Photos by Ani Cholakian

Garabed and Roza are a couple in their late seventies. They have no children. They were able to support themselves by preparing shish kebabs at home for delivery. They are not able to continue with their small business since many restaurants opened nearby. With no social security or other social safety nets they struggle to manage their small savings they collected while they worked.  Their small apartment has become dangerous to live in, but they are unable to afford to move into safer living conditions. In order to get to their one room apartment they have to climb up broken wooden steps.  They do not own their apartment, and with no rental protections they are not allowed to make repairs. The organization helps them with medical expenses and other needs.