World Ark senior editor Jaman Matthews and photographer Russell Powell are visiting Heifer projects in Armenia. They will be checking in from the field and posting photos and stories.
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia is a small land-locked country at the intersection of Europe and Asia. It is bordered to the north and east by the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, to the west by Turkey and to the south by Iran.
Armenia has been in the news lately due to the political push to officially recognize the deportation and killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century as a genocide. (Read more here.) So it’s appropriate that on our first day in the country, we visited the Armenian Genocide Museum. The museum and monument sit on a hill overlooking Yerevan, the capital city of about 1.2 million, about a third of the country’s population.
Twelve hulking stone columns stand in a circle, leaning in toward each other, like mourners around a grave. Inside the megaliths, flowers are laid in a circle around a flame that burns in memory of the dead and Armenian liturgical music drones from a hidden speaker. Two weeks ago, on April 24, the day when the genocide is officially recognized in Armenia, the flowers were said to be piled several feet high. This year was the 95th anniversary of the worst of the killing.
Back outside the stone circle stands a metal spire, a 144-foot spike cleft in two, one piece larger than the other. The spire represents Armenia, which once spread from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. But present Armenia occupies only a small part–10 percent–of its original area. Thus the cleft spire.
Visible in the distance, beyond the monument and the city of Yerevan, is Mount Ararat, snow covered even now. It dominates the Armenian skyline, but it’s no longer in Armenia. Mount Ararat is now just across the border in Turkey.
Stay tuned for more updates from Armenia.