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Rima Grigoryan

Artsakh Village Math Teacher Says Blockade Has Brought People Closer Together

Georgi Avsharyan is a mathematics teacher in Artsakh’s Matchkalashen village.

Hetq spoke to Avsharyan by phone since the village only has electricity for a few hours daily and an internet video call was impossible.

Avsharyan’s family moved to Matchkalashen after Azerbaijani troops seized the village of Shekher, also in the Martuni district, in the 2020 Artsakh war.

"We have sixty-seven students in our school. It's a small school with four or five in each class,” Avsharyan says, adding the Azerbaijani blockade has disrupted the school’s normal operation. Those preparing for university entrance exams must make do with outdated textbooks and guides.

Avsharyan also headed math and traditional dance groups in the area, but due to a lack of gasoline he can no longer drive to reach other villages.

Avsharyan, who temporarily moved his family to Russia after the war, says the ongoing blockade has brought people together as never before and has spurred a move to become more self-sufficient.

The family hardly shops in stores anymore, growing many vegetables in their garden.

"We have always grown a certain number of vegetables in our garden, but now we do more. Now’s not the time to be lazy. We have almost everything: beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash. It’s enough for us,” he tells Hetq.

The last time Avsharyan shopped at the store was a few days ago. He bought sugar, pasta and cooking oil with a coupon.

 "We have almost no local production in Artsakh. Everything is imported from abroad. That's why there is a shortage of almost everything now. The only good thing is that the grain of our fields remains and for now it’s enough,” he says.

When asked if he’s ever thought about living somewhere else, Avsharyan sounds a philosophical note and says difficulties must be overcome, not avoided.

“The important thing is that there are people in Artsakh now and know why they are here. We will certainly endure this ordeal," he says.

Photo: Georgi and wife Mariam draped in Artsakh flag

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