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Story by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Officer | Heifer Armenia

The Lazaryan family lives in the cross-border village of Choratan in the northern Tavush Marz of Armenia on the border of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Tavush is well-known for its mountains. The terrain is characterized by rocky hillsides covered with the bright green carpet of Alpine meadows. The region is also famous for an abundance of rivers and other water sources. There are a number of mountain springs, mineral water springs and small lakes, including the extraordinarily beautiful Lake Parz, which means clear in Armenian. The woods are another treasure of Tavush. Half the region is covered by woods growing high on the mountain slopes, providing a home for all sorts of wildlife. Tavush woods are especially attractive in autumn when trees are dressed in multi-colored “clothing.”

Tavush is also home to Armenia’s historical heritage. Monasteries, churches, castles, forts and khachkars, or cross-stones, are commonly seen. Tavush is a breathtakingly beautiful region with picturesque river valleys, deep gorges, crystal springs and lakes that reflect azure skies and the surrounding woods.

The people of Choratan live, work and run their farms directly under the rifles of Azeri snipers. It’s impossible to describe the horror of living in constant fear of being shot, yet no violence can take away the kindness and honesty the people of this region possess.

Varuzhan Lazaryan’s family consists of his wife Anush, their two children and his mother. Varuzhan and his wife are unemployed. His mother, Granny Heriqnaz, is retired and has health problems. The family’s minimum monthly expenses, which include food, utilities and medicine, total AMD 60,000, or about $180. They never think of buying new clothes or household items that they simply can’t afford. Varuzhan does his best to farm their small garden, the harvest of which he usually sells or barters at the market for food.

Recognizing the Lazaryan family’s extreme need, Heifer Armenia arranged for them to receive a pregnant heifer in a Passing on the Gift® ceremony in the fall of 2011 through the Chinari Cattle Breeding Project (#27-0245-01). They are one of 56 families from Choratan who received assistance from Heifer Armenia. Their cow has already delivered a calf and her milk volume has increased. Varuzhan’s family takes very good care of the animals. They share the work on their farm. Varuzhan cleans the barn, takes the animals to the pasture and brushes them. Anush feeds and gives water to the cow and the calf and milks the cow.

Every day, the Lazaryans enjoy fresh milk and dairy products, such as cheese, butter and curds, which Anush prepares from the milk. Varuzhan and Anush’s children, little Syuzanna and Suren, adore drinking milk at breakfast and in the evening before going to bed.

After fulfilling his pass-on responsibility, Varuzhan plans to extend the family farm. “Cows are profit-bringing animals,” he said. “Our cow provides tasty dairy products. Also, I sometimes sell the little surplus of the milk that we happen to have. I believe our income will increase when we extend our small farm. We are proud of our cow, which is our real helper and feeder!”

Find out how you can help change lives in Armenia.


Heifer International

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