The village of Tzar is different from other villages in the liberated territories not only because it has served as a princely royal seat for hundreds of years but also due to the fact that it has received a 20 million dram loan from the government. That loan has been used to purchase a truck and build livestock sheds to shelter the village's herd of young bulls. This development loan was given for a three -year period at an annual rate of 0.6%. The man who conceived this plan is Samvel Simonyan, the village's first resident who moved here eight years ago. Today, he's also Tzar's mayor.
In 1999 others also started to relocate here. Samvel's three brothers and parents moved here from the Tcholakar village in Martuni. Later on, refugees fromAzerbaijanliving in different communities in Gegharkunik also arrived. Today there are 14 families living in Tzar.
Tha mayor notes that, “ The entire village got together, purchased the truck and 100 young bulls. With the profits we earn, we're paying off the loan and now the village farm belongs to all of us. After we pay-off the debt we'll purchase more livestock for the village. If the economy were managed on a collective basis things would improve; we'll see. We paid 3.6 million drams for the truck. We've devised a system of wage rates and people get paid from the loan funds. When the calves mature we'll sell them off and buy more. We want to pay-off the loan as quickly as possible. The sooner it's paid, the better for us.”
Last week the electricity in Tzar was switched on. Now, all communities in New Shahumyan have power. The mayor states that upon learning that Tzar had been connected to the power grid other families have expressed a desire to relocate here as well. With funds from the village budget four homes are being rebuilt and one new home constructed. “Two refugee families from Vartenis are waiting to relocate here as soon as the houses are finished”, the mayor adds.
The fundamental problem in the New Shahumyan region remains the deficit in the housing stock. According to the information given us by various village leaders during our investigations, the number of people wishing to move to the region is quite large.
Most of what the village produces is sold in the town ofVartenis. It's 35 kilometers to Vartenis and 20 kilometers to Karvatchar and travel is difficult along these two routes. By October the road to Vartenis becomes impassable and soon after so does the route to Karvatchar. Thus, Tzar remains cut-off from the outside world for months.
Given this situation, the village gets together and compiles a list of what each person needs from the outside and the truck brings back everything that is purchased. The village's produce is sold in the same manner.
“In traditional Armenian villages the residents periodically go to the village mayor to express their grievances. What types of protests have they expressed to you?” we ask Mayor Simonyan.
“They come to me with demands, not grievances. They want a village store. I tell them it will happen, to be patient. When we came here there was nothing...now see what we've got. See how things have changed.” answers Samvel.
Unlike in Armenia, there are no quarrels over land issues. “ If we had access to farm equipment we'd cultivate more land. It's difficult to farm without the necessary machinery. We harvest a more bountiful crop of potatoes than Tcholakar. If things work out all-right we'll purchase the needed machinery with village funds,” notes the mayor.
All the residents get together to celebrate births in the village and military festivals. There are 37 children in the village and an average yearly birthrate of two. Most of the families in the village are young in age.
“We still haven't celebrated a marriage here, but we will next year. There are two young people who will get married after leaving the army”, Samvel Simonyan joyously tells us.
The New Shahumyan region stands apart from other Armenian communities in one very important respect. Here the average age is from 28 to 30 years old.
Translated by Hrant Gadarigian