When You Don't Have Something, You Dream About It
II have watched people walking down the street and thought, "They don't appreciate the fact that they can walk!" Then I think, "…but do I appreciate what I have?"
Arsineh and her father appreciate what they have—they have worked for it. She came to the United States in 2010, her father, Sirop, followed her in 2014. Sirop was a highly skilled man in his country, with degrees in physics and mechanical engineering. He would gladly have come to America with his daughter, but he had responsibilities at home. Sirop was caring for his wife who was gravely ill, and a person with cancer isn't high on the acceptance lists for emigration.
I listened with interest as Arsineh told her story. From the age of 8, she knew that coming to America would be in her future—she just had to figure out how.
"When you don't have something, you dream about it." She says earnestly. "I knew that in America we could use our talents to help people." Those talents would eventually become the new Rehabilitation Wheelchair.
Dad-Daughter Duo Focuses Talents on Helping Disability Community
Her plan formed; in 2003 she would move to Armenia and continue her education in computer sciences. She would graduate from the European University of Yerevan in Armenia, get her bachelor's degree in computer science in 2008—all skills that would translate to jobs in her new chosen home.
The plan worked. After emigrating in 2010, Arsineh was able to get work at Fry's Electronics, capitalizing on her degree in computers. Once her beloved mother passed away, Sirop joined her in Glendale, California. But entering the American work force was easier for daughter than for father. For Sirop, the transfer of his advanced degree to an American job was not as natural.
Prior to coming to America, Sirop was an inventor of industrial laundry machines; washers and dryers for huge hospitals. Sirop had certificates of design from Germany, but that didn't translate to job offers in the United States. As there was no need for industrial washers in Glendale, he returned to what he knew—inventing.
"People with disabilities need to do simple daily living tasks," Sirop says intently. "When I was thinking of inventions, that came into my mind."
It came to his mind through friendship. Sirop had been struck by the situation of a neighbor 36 years ago. This man, in a wheelchair, was lonely; his family was far away in Germany. Living alone, he found comfort in friendship with his neighbors.
Gazing into the past, Sirop recalls, "The night I married Arsineh's mother, my neighbor suddenly died. I was changed that night. I saw how my friend struggled with things I could do without thinking! I wanted to do what I could to fix that."
Their invention fills a need most people have when they are in a wheelchair—how to get up off your seat! The Rehabilitation Wheelchair has a built-in lift system that lifts a person above the wheelchair seat, enough to pull pants up and down, reach something from a high shelf or clean hard-to-reach areas. The wheelchair can be self-propelled—to go above a toilet, to the kitchen sink, out to the workbench where you can raise and lower yourself at will.
Father and daughter make a good team. Arsineh works beside her father, doing research, testing, purchasing supplies and also building the Rehabilitation Wheelchair. Sirop takes regular breaks from his work to hike with friends, conquering peaks like Mount Baldy, elevation 4,193 feet.
As they explain the concept of the wheelchair, they become animated explaining, "Every paraplegic should be able to do anything. Change his clothes, cooking… you can be lifted up to reach what is up high. The straps around your thighs lift you up while the harness around your shoulders supports you as you rise."
As cliched as it sounds, these two people have found the American Dream. Arsineh is a proud American citizen, her father will be a citizen this year. They have focused their dreams on helping people with disabilities in this country…and eventually, the world.
Come see the Rehabilitation Wheelchair and meet Arsineh and Sirop Boghozian at the LA Abilities Expo, booth 551.
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