I asked Emilya, who has fifteen children, whether she remembers all of their names.
“Sometimes I mix them, up. I say three or four names, before I remember who is who.” Emilya gave birth to Artsakh, her fifteenth child, in the hospital in Berdzor in the Kashatagh region.
“Starting in 1996, I took part in the rebuilding of the Hadrut region of Karabakh. I fell in love with these territories. Three month later, I decided to come and live here,” recounted Emilya's husband, Sergey Poghosyan.
“I went back to Ashtarak and told my wife. She kept saying no at first. Then we saw Anahit, the village head in Gokhtanik, on TV asking people to come and live in Gokhtanik. It was an excuse. We loaded our stuff and our children on a bus, came to Berdzor, and from there came to this village. We founded this village with seven families. I got two loans for livestock right away, and we started living.”
Sergey Poghosyan has served as the head of the village administration for three years now. With a degree of pride, he told us that when he became the village head there were only 13 farms, and now there are 19. It's hard to imagine anyone else as village head, since 40% of the people in Gokhtanik are Sergei Poghosyan's relatives. His two sons have married and live with their families in the village. One of his daughters went to the next village as a bride. Two sons are serving in the army. Of fifteen children, seven are boys and eight are girls. Sergey and his wife already have nine grandchildren.
The family gets by on only four sacks of flour each month. “In the past it was very hard, there were days then we would go hungry; there was nothing to eat. In the past four or five years our situation has improved. Our needs are taken care of, and we can help others, “ Emilya said.
The guest room has padded furniture, which is unique in this region; you never see such luxury in other Kashatagh villages. “We have ten large cattle, four of which give us milk. That's enough for us. We keep pigs, have farmland, thank God. At one time, we got a lot of help; we are grateful to everyone. The government gave us $5,000 for our fifteenth child, “ Sergey said.
Emilya works at the school; she was hired as a cleaning woman the day she arrived. She receives 23,000 drams allowance each month for her children. “When my children grew up, it got easier. There were more able hands in the house, and now we no longer need any type of assistance, “ Sergey continued.
There were two students in this year's high school graduating class. There are twenty-four students in total. Six or seven years ago there were about 80 families in the village, but they left over time. “Whoever was disillusioned left, “Sergey explained.
In Gokhtanik, people farm the land and raise livestock. When I asked the village head how he sees the village developing, he said that the first priority is to solve the problem of drinking water. “ We can't do that on our own. It involves huge expenses,” he said. “I help the poor families however I can. The land, thank God, is fruitful, so we help each other.”