In Armenia, tough times bring us together.
As a kid in the ‘90s – a time of poverty and war – I remember that whoever could get a loaf of bread would share it with their neighbors, and whoever had electricity would have a little TV-watching party and invite those who didn’t.
With the coronavirus outbreak, things aren’t that bad (yet), but people have again come together to care for one another.
The government response has been an especially pleasant surprise. Armenians had become used to an indifferent government leaving us basically on our own. But the new government, which came to power in 2018, has shined in this crisis.
Officials started several initiatives to involve the public in the response; the Ministry of Health just put out a call for volunteer medical workers, translators, drivers and others to help the state respond. Two thousand volunteers signed up within a day.
Maybe the most impressive government effort has been to repatriate dozens of Armenians from countries with much higher rates of infection. One widely shared Facebook post was from a woman evacuated from Italy. On arrival in Armenia, she was put in a two-week quarantine and raved about the quality of the treatment she was getting. “They take such good care of us, I almost feel bad,” she wrote.