Sona Manuelian


Leading Fuller Center Global Builders trips to Armenia has become a summer tradition for Leo and Sona Manuelian. In fact, they’ve been helping build simple, decent homes in Armenia since 2003. They were thrilled to serve again in June of this year after missing their 2020 trip because of the pandemic.

About this series

“Fuller Living” features the people who make this ministry possible, talking about their experiences in their own words.

Leo and Sona Manuelian's 2021 Global Builders team

Thankful to help Armenian families once again

Covid-19 could not prevent us this year from traveling to Armenia with a volunteer build team. We were determined to assist a family, the Poghosyans, to fulfill their dreams of having a decent home to live in.

This year we had nine brave volunteers join us:

Our team consisted of John and June Mangasarian from Boston; Jane Baxter from Chicago; Kimberly Halgren from Minnesota; Walter and Robert Pinkerton from Kansas; Tyler Pinkerton from Georgia; Natalie Janji from California; and Haig Gulian (a Knights of Vartan member) from New Jersey.

The Poghosyan family — father Bejan, wife Nune and their children, Eric (9) and  sister Nare (2) live in Marmarashen village in the Ararat region. They had been renting from a village home owner. The owner had to sell. The family then had to move into a domik (a container), Bejan started construction on a decent home, but was unable to complete on his own.

Our work began on the morning of June 7. After wewere introduced to the family and given safety instructions, we began our work. We started with the inside of the home. The bedrooms were the first rooms to lay down the subase.

There is a certain rhythm to swinging buckets filled with concrete to the person next to you in line. If you hum the tune of Tamzara, it works out very well.

At one point Bejan’s son, Eric, joined us in the bucket line, helping pass the buckets. He had a look of determination and pride on his face. And so, he should, for it was his home he was helping to complete! It was also his birthday and the team co-leader’s (Leo Manuelian) birthday, as well. Maybe it was the enormous cake? Nope! It was definitely the fact that he was contributing to the completion of his home.

After the inside of the home was done it was time for the roof. After the group of men figured out how to work the ladder, (this while the women laughed) the bucket line for the doof (soft stone) began.  Team members took turns shoveling and going up onto  the roof. Lunch was always  provide by FCHA followed by Coffee. (Hyegagan Soorj)

There were several water breaks, as well, and more coffee and cookies. This year’s weather in Armenia was unusually hot.

The work days were split up with touring as well. Etchmiadzin, Tzitnagabert, Matendaran, Harghshin, Lighthouse Foundation, Lake Sevan, Garni and the most amazing site ever, The Symphony of the Stones. We were to tour Khor Virab, as well. The temperature on that day was 101 degrees. We decided against it due to the danger of heat stroke.

Toward the end of the trip, the family had a barbecue for the team. When it came time to say our farewells, tears were shed from us all. Strong bonds were created between the family and the team.

As we bid farewell, Sis and Masis stood proudly off in the distance behind the family’s home, knowing that we would return the following year with another team.

God willing.

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