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Story and Photos by Aram Petrosyan | Program Coordinator | Heifer Armenia
Translated from Armenian by Liana Hayrapetyan | Communication and PR Officer | Heifer Armenia
Samvel and his wife Narine are parents of two school-aged children. They live with Samvel’s mother, Granny Seda, 73, in Shikahogh village of Armenia’s Syunik region. In the fall of 2012, the family became engaged in Heifer Armenia’s Kapan Cattle Breeding Project. The family received a pregnant heifer, which has already given birth to a healthy calf.
Before becoming Heifer Armenia project participants, the family lived in extreme poverty. Unemployment is very high in Armenia, especially in rural communities, and neither Samvel, 37, nor Narine, 35, was employed. Horticulture is not a very good occupation for the people of Shikahogh because of problems with irrigation and water supply. The only favorable occupation is animal husbandry. This family had five goats, which served as their sole source of income. They lived on the little money they generated from the sales of cheese Narine prepared from goat milk.
Considering the family's dire situation, Heifer provided Samvel with a pregnant cow, which, as Narine said, “took them out of extreme need.” After receiving the animal, Samvel decided to destroy their old barn and use the stones to build a new one to provide better conditions for the animals. During the construction the animals were under a cattle shed.
“I have a very serious intention to develop my small family farm," Samvel said. "I want to increase the number of my animals. My cow has already delivered a calf, which I’m going to raise to pass on to another family in need. The rest of the calves that my cow will deliver in the future will stay with me and my farm will enlarge little by little. I’m very thankful to Heifer for providing me this opportunity to start my own cattle farm. It is no secret that the income from the cow is tangible. The cow serves as a source of money and a source of fresh dairy products. My wife prepares fresh curds, butter, cheese and matsoun (Armenian yogurt), which my children love very much. They have fresh milk and tasty dairy products every morning before going to school.”
Samvel and Narine’s neighbors are also very happy for them. They say the couple has regained hope for a better future, are more sustainable and have stable living conditions. They truly value the self-reliance Heifer provided to these co-villagers.