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Story and Photos by Aram Petrosyan | Program Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Translated by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Coordinator | Heifer Armenia

The Syunik region of Armenia is breathtakingly beautiful. The summers there are juicy green, the autumns are covered with almost all colors of the palette and the winters are shining with sparkling white of the snowy forests. Everything is remarkably beautiful, and every village or town remains in your memories once you visit.

Amidst all this beauty is Shikahogh, a village surrounded by lush green forests. During the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, from 1992-1994, the Azeris bombed Syunik and the people in this village suffered a great deal while struggling for their native land and hoping for peace for their families. After the cease-fire, the people of Shikahogh left their land little-by-little  because of postwar conditions, economic blockade, unemployment and many other difficulties. They migrated to the cities or abroad, just as inhabitants of many other threatened villages in Armenia did.

In 2008, when only 50 families remained in this community, the village of Shikahogh became involved in Heifer Armenia’s Kapan Cattle Breeding Project , and 13 families received pregnant cows. In 2011, these same families passed on pregnant cows to another 13 families in a Passing on the Gift® (POG) ceremony, and nine additional cows were passed on from neighboring villages. Thus, more than half of the families living in Shikahogh benefited from Heifer. By 2011 the economic conditions in the village were markedly different. Almost every other family owned a cow that provided them with milk and other dairy products.

After many years away from their native village,  the Beglaryan family returned to Shikahogh just before the first POG. The Beglaryans never imagined coming back home and starting their own small farm. They had no idea that they could expect a new and different life here. The family received a cow from their co-villager through Passing on the Gift®. This was good encouragement for the family and made them believe in a different and more prosperous, self-reliant future.

“We had no hope that one day we might own a cow. Now we have not only a cow, but also its calf," said Karine Beglaryan. "Our Sevo (Armenian for dark skinned) fully provides us with tasty milk, enough for the whole family. I prepare cheese, butter and curds out of milk. When Sevo’s calf Khurma grows, we hope it will also be a good milking cow.”

Karine’s husband Babken is disabled and unemployed. Their son helps Karine run the small family farm. Karine’s daughter Haykanush is an athlete and uses her skills to teach athletics at the local gym and Kapan's sports center in the Syunik region. Babken’s elderly mother, Granny Haykanush, lives with the family. She has health problems and Babken regularly takes her to the doctor and buys the medicine she needs.

Indeed, the Beglaryan family wants to make a difference both in their lives and in the social-economic life of their community. They have the diligence, the good start and, most importantly, the belief in success and hope for a bright future.

Learn how you can help families 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.