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Story and photos by Knarine Ghazanchyan | Program Coordinator
Translated by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Officer

In the fall of 2009, the Tonapetyan family received a cow through participation in a Heifer International project. The cow quickly began producing milk, which became the family’s main source of food.

The family lives in Hushakert, one of six communities in the Armavir region of Armenia targeted by the Armavir Integrated Rural Development Project. Their cow, named Zhanna by the children, has had two calves and is pregnant with a third. After delivery of the first calf, the cow’s milk volume increased and now gives the family 14-15 liters of milk each day, a very good indicator for the local breed and a result of the good care the cow receives.

The milk is used by the Tonapetyans for a variety of purposes such as sour cream, cheese and matsoun (Armenian yogurt). The family does not sell the milk, as it is not that much, although they often share the milk and goods prepared from it with their neighbors and relatives.

Irina and Serob Tonapetyan always keep the barn clean, and they usually share the work. During the summer Serob works in the field to mow the grass and dry and store it for winter for the animals. Irina milks the animals, feeds them, gives them water and brushes them.

Beniamin, their 16-year-old son, is still in school and Roza, their 20-year-old daughter, will soon become a hairdresser. To practice her skills, she styles the hair of almost every girl and woman in the village.

This fall the Tonapetyans will pass-on Zhanna’s first offspring to another needy family from their village. Many families in need are on the list of potential project participants to receive assistance, and many of these families would like to receive a pass-on heifer from the Tonapetayan family. The word is out that Irina and Serob take very good care of their animals and their cow definitely will be a healthy one. Animals from this family are believed to bring success, since everyone in the village is aware that since receiving the cow, all of Irina and Serob’s initiatives have shown success. In fact, the villagers believe that the cow may possibly have magic power, just like a talisman.

Learn how you can be a part of the exciting changes in Armenia through Heifer International.


Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.