Heifer’s philosophy aligns with this proverb: Give a man a fish and he won’t starve for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he won’t starve for his entire life. It is simply more sustainable to equip, and therefore empower, someone to be self-sufficient. When properly trained, one person can change their life, their family, their community–and ultimately their world.
Alik Nazlukhanyan knows all too well the difference a little teaching can make. The 31-year-old beekeeper lives in Armenia’s Debed village with his wife Susanna and newborn son Arayik. Alik’s father, mother and brother live in the house, too. While Alik’s mother works as a laboratory assistant, the rest of the family raises bees and cultivates their garden.
In 2012, Alik heard about a local bee project. Since he already had one hive, he felt the project would be good for his family. The Beekeeping and Honey Production to Build Sustainable Livelihoods in Debed Village project is implemented jointly by Heifer Armenia and Fuller Center for Housing Armenia. Soon after joining, Alik’s family received four new beehives from another family. But the gifts didn’t end there. They participated in trainings where they learned effective beekeeping methods. In a special training on Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, the family learned a set of values that they have since incorporated into their daily lives.
This combination of beehives and training is clearly working for Alik and his family of beekeepers. “Getting important skills on beekeeping during the trainings, I managed to enlarge my small bee farm,” he said. “I have increased the number of hives from four to six. This year I harvested 20 kg (44 pounds) of honey, but I am sure I will be able to get more in the upcoming years due to hard work and taking good care of the hives.”
Alik’s family consumed the first honey harvest, which greatly improved their daily nutrition. Local honey is known for a variety of health benefits, such as eliminating allergies, balancing blood sugar, regulating blood pressure, soothing sore throats and aiding digestion. With plans to expand their farm with more hives, they hope the next harvest brings a surplus, which they will sell for extra income.
Another reason to expand their farm can be found in Heifer’s first Cornerstone–Passing on the Gift®. The family hopes to teach another family how to best raise bees and gift them with four hives in 2014.
Alik is grateful that he doesn’t have to leave his community to earn enough money to sustain his family. “Nowadays it is very hard to get employed somewhere,” Alik said. “The family farm is an alternative solution to generate income to support the family.”
What Heifer gave Alik’s family was a good start for a great future. With additional bees and know-how, a sturdy foundation has been built. Further success is up to them. Diligence and commitment to growing their farm will serve them well. Heifer gave them a rod, or in this case beehives, and taught them how to make those beehives work for them. Now Alik’s family knows how to “fish” and with knowledge like that, the sky’s the limit.
Story and Photos by Karine Matevosova, Program Coordinator, Heifer Armenia
Translated by Liana Hayrapetyan, Communication and PR Coordinator, Heifer Armenia