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

The Voskanyan family lives in the village of Chinar, Armenia, amid daily unrest caused by the fear that Azeri snipers may at any moment break the cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan and they will be shot at again. The village is located directly at the bottom of the hill from where the snipers watch the inhabitants, and there has been sniper fire over the last year.

The most dangerous season for the people of Chinar is spring, when the villagers work in the fields, not yet green and grown, so their movements are easily seen by snipers on the other side of the Armenian-Azeri border. With fear in their hearts, they cultivate their fields, work in the gardens and go about their regular daily routines.

The Voskanyan family consists of six members, including Ofik, her son Mher and his wife, their two small sons, and Granny Siranush, Ofik’s mother-in-law. They became Heifer Armenia project participants in the fall of 2011 when they joined the Chinar Cattle Breeding Project and received a pregnant heifer from a co-villager in a Passing on the Gift® ceremony. The family grows grapes, which they sell to take care of daily expenses. Before Heifer's assistance, the family had no animals and could not afford even one cow.

“Thanks to Heifer we now have a cow and a calf," Mher said. "Our cow delivered a bull-calf. We turned to our neighbor with a request to exchange it with their female calf. Now we take very good care of this calf to grow it into a heifer to pass it on to another family in need. At the moment our cow is again pregnant and will deliver in a couple of weeks. Life in Chinar is very dangerous. Every day my wife takes our two kids to the kindergarten with a feeling of fear in her heart. The other day the nurse in the kindergarten told my wife that every time when the shootings start she turns on the music very loudly so that the children don’t hear the shootings.”

The cow provided by Heifer has lightened the family's burden. The cow gives about 2 ½ to 3 gallons of milk daily. At the time we talked with the family, the milk quantity was far less because the cow was pregnant, but Mher is confident they will start getting more milk again once the cow gives birth.

“My grandchildren like to have a cup of milk at breakfast before going to the kindergarten,” Ofik said. “I often prepare homemade cookies, which they adore to eat with sour cream I prepare from our cow’s milk. I also prepare butter out of the milk, which is so expensive nowadays, and we save on not buying butter anymore. Thanks to all the people who made this project possible and assisted us in our difficult life full of trouble.”

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Heifer International

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