Five Steps toward Happiness: A Unique Recipe from Heifer Project Participants

The Mayisyan village is located in the Armavir region of Armenia, about 50 minutes from the capital of Yerevan. People here are mainly engaged in horticulture and animal husbandry. It is worth mentioning that apricots and grapes grown in this part of Armenia are considered particularly tasty, due to favorable climate: sunny, dry weather and soil with a high concentration of clay, about 10-30 percent.

Heifer Armenia entered here in 2007 when the third generation of animals were passed on from the neighboring village of Nalbandyan to the Mayisyan village, which was a part of Noah’s Gifts to a Christian Armenia Project in place since 2001. The POG to Mayisyan provided 17 families with gravid cows (one cow per family).

Hovsep Hakobyan, 53, and his wife Kaqav, 38, were among the first ones to receive a cow. Both of them were born and grew up in Mayisyan creating a nice family with love and understanding. Hovsep fought for the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s and was seriously injured. His battlefield friends supported him a lot. Due to their assistance, Hovsep was sent to Moscow to receive treatment in one of the leading clinics.

When the cease fire was announced, Hovsep returned to his native village. With a faithful will, he met a young lady with a nice name – Kaqav (an Armenian name for partridge). After meeting each other a couple of times, Hovsep had already decided for himself, “I am going to marry this girl!” Making sure nobody could prevent their decision, the couple chose to “run away” from the rush of the wedding itself, and the traditional ceremonies that follow every wedding in Armenia. Nineteen years have passed now, and the couple recalls how anxious they were, and how hard it was to make a decision to run away in a traditional Armenian family. Being independent is the first step toward happiness in the Hakobyan family!

Now this family has three children, a daughter Gyulizar, 18; son David, 17; and younger daughter Gayane, 14. Gyulizar and David have already finished school; Gayane is still a student. All three are indispensable helpers for their parents. David, as most of his peers, is attending a local weightlifting sports club, which was founded by his father Hovsep many years ago. Hovsep is sure, “All young people should be engaged in sports, be in good shape, by tomorrow they are the ones who will defend their motherland, their village and family.” Being a Patriot is the second step to happiness of the Hakobyan family.

The cow Hakobyans received from Heifer Armenia in 2007 was their first one. Though they had a barn, they never managed to save enough money to buy a cow. With Hovsep’s sense of humor, the cow was immediately named “Shushan” (this is the name of the group leader in Mayisyan’s community – a kind lady called Shushan Havatyan). Having a sense of humor is another way to be happy in the Hakobyan family.

For three years Hovsep and Kaqav have been Heifer project participants. During this time they achieved tangible success. When we recently met this nice couple, they reminded us about a promise they gave to Heifer when receiving the cow. They promised to do their best and become real farmers and they did that. Now they have four animals in the barn, two of which are pregnant now, and in the fall the farm will be extended. “I guess we need to find large companies which will purchase the milk of our cows and sign contracts with them. Especially now when the price for milk is going up to AMD 150 (USD 0.4) per liter,” Hovsep said with confidence. Being diligent is the fourth step toward happiness for Hakobyans.

Kindness and willingness to help others are qualities which are appreciated very much in this family. One can see this by just spending 1-2 hours within this family. I noticed it for the first time during the POG ceremony. Everyone was excited to see the manner with which Hovsep and Kaqav passed their heifer to their neighbors. They gave advice, recommendations and explanations on how to take care of the animal. They are among the most active people in Heifer Armenia trainings. As we can see, they follow all Heifer Cornerstones. Kindness – this is the main thing that builds happiness in this family!