A direct descendent of survivors from the Ottoman genocide against the Armenian people during WWI, Ilona Parunakova grew up hearing stories of how her great-great-grandparents were slaughtered before the eyes of her great-grandmother. She herself witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and survived wartime in the Republic of Georgia immediately following 1991-1993.
Growing up with a Ukrainian mother and Armenian father in the Republic of Georgia she endured ethnic discrimination for much of her life, rejected by her grandparents, mocked by relatives, and refused entrance to universities.
Opium of the Almond Tree speaks to the warriors, the survivors, the determined and the broken in spirit as Ilona takes them through experiences that reveal the power of even a spark of an idea, and what it can lead to, as Ilona takes you on an adventure in search of passion for life and the essence of our identity. We are on a journey of discovering the joy that delivers us from devastation of trauma and crisis, and provides victory in times of loss and fear. Joy is not the absence of suffering, fear or anxiety. Joy it is not an idea. It is not a conviction. It is not a persuasion or a decision. It is the presence of the divine assurance and extraordinary strength everyone deserves to experience.