The Danielyan family in the village of Alvank (Syunik) seem to have their act together.
A visitor merely has to take a look at their successful pomegranate orchard to see that the Danielyan’s are bucking the trend of the oft repeated mantra that living in a rural community is tough.
Ashot Danielyan moved to Alvank from the town of Kajaran in 1992. The village is 400 kilometres from Yerevan near the Armenian-Iranian border.. He’s a teacher at the local school and also serves as the vice-principal.
But this father of three long gave up on the possibility of taking care of the family merely on the school’s salary. He’s since taken advantage of village programs designed to make agricultural pursuits somewhat more accessible.
“I started from zero and slowly built up the orchard,” Ashot says, noting that he has to pay for irrigation water per hour and that all the farm equipment belongs to him.
While his industriousness should serve as an example for other village residents, it seems that many are content to “help themselves” to the fruits of his hard work.
“When our pomegranates are ready to harvest the entire village gets rich. A good portion of the crop is stolen,” says Ashot’s wife Rita, adding that she knows exactly who the culprits are.
Ashot’s two sons, Hayk and Arsen, pitch in with the constant work needed to tend to the orchard. Only 3 year-old Vardouhie, his daughter, gets a pass.
Rita is the village nurse and receives a monthly salary of 30,000 AMD ($75).
Hayk, the eldest boy, finishes high school this year and wants to become a surgeon. He was given his own room to study for the entrance exams uninterrupted.
It seems to have paid off since he passed with flying colors. If he gets accepted to the Mkhitar Heratsi Medical College in Yerevan, it will be revenues from the pomegranate orchard that pay his tuition expenses.
As we were leaving, we spotted a neighbour tossing his garbage on a grassy patch next to Ashot’s house.
Many would argue that such behaviour is to be expected given that the village has no designated trash receptacles or dump site.
Not Ashot or his family. Their house is kept clean inside and out.
“You see this sack?” asked Rita, “We collect all our trash and then take the sack to Agarak where there’s a proper dump. Our neigbors can do the same if they wanted to.”
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