"Aleksan Dakrmnjyan, a survivor of the Syrian Civil War, settled in the Armenian capital with his family in 2013 and managed to start his own business. For him the key to success is optimism, and the choice to never look back to the past.
'If you look back, you can’t see your future,' Dakrmnjyan says.
After going through many difficulties on the road to a new life, today Aleksan Dakrmnjyan owns a vehicle repair and maintenance center in one of the suburbs in Yerevan. The center has acquired a solid reputation in the last three years and attracted many customers. Syrian-Armenian artisans have a good reputation in Armenia, and many locals appreciate their honest and loyal work.
'My customers love me,' says Aleksan Dakrmnjyan, an auto-electrician by profession. 'Especially when they know I am from Syria, they trust and respect me, and I am very content with them. I love Armenia very much. Throughout these past five years, no one has ever harmed us. Just the opposite, everyone helps us, treats us well and respects us,'
The hospitality and open-heartedness of local people charmed Dakrmnjyan since his first days in Armenia.
'People always want to treat me well to show appreciation for my work,' he continues happily. 'They bring good drinks, or they want to do some other good thing for me, but I am just doing my job.'
It has taken a lot out of Dakrmnjyan to put what he went through in 2013 behind him. His house and workshop were bombarded by armed groups in Aleppo; the furious faces and threats from armed forces on the way to the Turkish border linger in his memory, as do distressing thoughts about life and death. Shortly after arriving in Yerevan, he again had to make a tough choice and his family for a year. He went to the Netherlands to find a job, to help his family start from scratch after having lost all their property in Aleppo.
'It’s true that we faced many difficulties when fleeing from Aleppo to Armenia, but we understand that this is our home,' Aleksan says. 'There is no place better than Armenia. I have traveled through many countries, but here it is safe and secure. We've started our lives anew.'
The plans to start his own business were put in place after he returned from the Netherlands. Success finally smiled on him when he received a grant from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, to open his workshop.
'I bought tools, rented a place and started to run the workshop,' he recounts enthusiastically.
Dekrmnjyan, who saw war and sustained losses, has big plans for the future and is willing to stay in Armenia.
'Each person achieves a success in their own way,' Dakrmnjyan concludes. 'My job here is good and should get better every day. It’s true, we left our home due to war, but if you move to another country, you need to adapt one more time. You should aim to live peacefully, your mind shouldn’t dwell on the past in Syria. It’s over, you need to seek new accomplishments, a new job. You should understand how you need to set your children up to reach their goals. You always need to look ahead, not back.'"