The Lori region of Armenia is covered with vast green forests. One can see coniferous woods and lush greenery, as well as mountains, gorges and canyons throughout the whole region. Here the climate is milder than in other regions of the country: summers are cool and winters are warm. Stepanavan, a small town in Lori, and the villages surrounding it are well-known among the local people for the fresh mountainous air and resorts surrounded by the green of the forests.
The village of Urut is a community in nearby Stepanavan. Its nearly 1,100 residents are engaged in farming, gardening and horticulture. Last year Heifer Armenia and the Armenian Missionary Association of America started a project in Stepanavan, through which 18 families received pregnant cows.
This year 20 families from local communities, including the village of Urut, will participate in the project. Each family will get one cow.
A baseline survey was conducted to determine which families would participate in the project, and the Khachatryan family is among those chosen.
Valerik Khachatryan is a skillful tailor. He is famous in his village for his beautiful work. When he is not busy sewing or tailoring, he does small-scale farming. His family, which includes his wife Amalya, daughter Zhanna, 16, and son Vanik, 13, owns two calves, six hens, 10 chickens and a small pool with carp fish. Valerik dreams of growing their family farm. He takes very good care of their backyard garden, where he grows potatoes, beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkins, apples, plums and pears. Amalya’s hobby is growing flowers. The day we visited them, their yard was all covered with the palette of the wonderful Aster flower.
There are no words to describe the diligence of this family. With just one look at the tidiness and precision of their yard, it is clear how well they take care of their farm. Everything is so clean. Dry manure is stored in a pyramid shape to be used as fuel in winter, the grass is neatly cut, the dry leaves of the trees are swept and gathered in the corner, the trees are watered, and the barn is very clean and organized.
Valerik is confident that with Heifer’s support he will realize his dream of enlarging his family farm to generate more income and become economically stable. This, too, is what Heifer strives for – to support families to become self-reliant and live a dignified life in poverty-free communities.
Editor's note: This story and photos by Knarine Ghazanchyan, Program Coordinator, Heifer Armenia; translated by Liana Hayrapetyan, Communication and PR Coordinator, Heifer Armenia