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Kristine Aghalaryan

Farmer Jirair Moves from Qamishli to Kovsakan: “We’re here to stay”

If you ever get to travel to Kovsakan, a town in the extreme southwest of the Kashatagh district of Artsakh, and ask the locals to name one of the best known Syrian-Armenian transplants, they’ll invariable mention Jirair.

Jirair Donabedian is one of the original Syrian-Armenians who resettled in this remote Armenian outpost in 2009, before the war broke out back home.

Hailing from the town of Qamishli, on the Syrian-Turkish border, Jirair now grows wheat and barley on 150 hectares of land that he’s leased.

He was also a farmer back in Qamishli and says he was doing quite well. But the pull of the homeland was too great to resist, he confesses.

“Whether or not there was a war, I have come here as a resident who will stay. I have never been a complainer, neither here or in the diaspora. I always have a positive outlook towards the future,” says Jirair.

A year after arriving, the rest of the family joined him-his wife and seven kids.

Jirair took out a bank loan and purchased a tractor. He had other farming equipment sent from Syria.

This year, in addition to wheat and barley, he’s planted chick peas and hopes one day to have the legume more widely grown in Artsakh.

At heart, Jirair is an experimenter and likes to try new things just to see what works and what doesn’t.

The family also put in long hours on the farm, just like back in Qamishli. Sometimes, they’ll put in twelve hours on one patch of land and then move on to another with little or no rest in-between.

Jirair says that news residents coming to Kovsakan mostly want to work in government jobs – the school, municipality the hospital or the fire brigade. He’s quick to point out however that there aren’t enough cushy civil service jobs to employ everyone. Who will farm the land, he asks.

Jirair’s eldest son serves in the army. Another is a student at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Yerevan State University.

“We’ve put down roots here and plan to stay. We could have moved to anywhere in Europe, but chose to come to the homeland. Let the others go and may God go with them. But they will definitely long for the homeland. We are here. Good or bad, it’s ours,” Jirair says. 

Comments (4)

The Truth
if the oligarchy system and highly corrupt bureaucracy allows Syrian Armenians and Lebanese Armenians would be able to change all bad and dirty habits existing in the society in Armenia which are mostly remains of soviet and post soviet system. We can only hope there are enough responsible officials in Stepanaket and Yerevan to not disappoint these new commers !
Քրիստինե ջան, Շնորհակալություն հոդվածի համար: Ուրախ էի ծանաոթանալ Ժիրայրի գործունեության հետ, նա իսկապես հերոս է: Միայն թե նրան այլևս չի կարելի անվանել սփյուռքահայ, նա արդեն հայրենադարձ է: Այ երբ Ժիրայրը բնակվում էր Սիրիայի Ղամշլի քաղաքում, այդ ժամանակ նա դեռ սփյուռքահայ էր: Իսկ 2009 թվականից երբ նա հաստատվեց Արցախում դարձավ նախկին սփյուռքահայ, այսինքն' հայրենադարձ: Հարգանքներս, Շմավոն
always blame someone else. thoses guys are rotten .the soviet system 20 year have pass. still the same rot. lie. lazy. kor. cheater. and the sad part is that they teach they children to follow their exemple ,it start with the big guy to the small one try to understand.but like it say we have only one armenia.maybe in 100 year it will get better.maybe????????????
jirair is a man with common sense and wisdom i wish him my best good luck let others take your example

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