The straight road from Yerevan takes you to a small village, living where means waking up every day, walking through pink tuff houses, greeting men playing backgammon (nard) outdoors, and seeing children dashing through the streets, though now less often than they used to – cell phones did it all!
They have the most delicious barbecue, but pig breeding has slumped after the last cholera pandemic. They are known as Russian-speakers, but few speak the language nowadays. They count the inhabited houses not by the smoke coming out from the chimney but with laundry spreads.
As soon as you step through the gate of one’s house in Yeghegnut village of the Lori region, the landlord rushes to invite you for a bite or a drink. Want it or not, here people won’t let you leave without a good treat.
Ask Zardanashen village kids of Artsakh where they are from, and they’ll unanimously reply with a delightful smile on their face -“We’re from the prettiest village in the world!”
The COAF SMART Center, well-known by many as our business card, is home to over 1500 youngsters and adults from 27 communities of the Lori region. It is an innovative hub that unites people from dozens of villages that not only benefit from over 20 programs and services but also bring their culture, history, and unique perspectives with themselves.
“Are there people who still bake bread in the tonir?”
“There are but very few. Let’s walk a bit. As soon as we smell a scent of freshly baked lavash, we will go towards it.”
The north-western Shirak Province of Armenia is well-known for Gyumri, the second-largest city and the cultural capital of Armenia. The region has over 120 villages, the names of which often reflect various elements of nature or are after a significant someone who was born in that village.
One of the most charming villages of the Lori region sits on the Pambak River. The mountainous Vahagni is home for over 900 people who use cattle breeding and the production of wheat, barley, alfalfa, potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetable crops to make a living.
People who have never been to villages cannot get the real beauty of rural lifestyle: fresh air, homemade food, sounds of the wild, nature that speaks for itself, and skies full of twinkling stars.
The golden rays of the sun give a bright shade to the meadows and bluish green mountains far away. The villagers sip a cup of coffee as roosters’ Cock-A-Doodle-Doo breaks the early morning tranquility getting everyone in the mood to work.
Paints, brushes, parts of toy cars, engines, ping pong balls, ice-cream sticks, various chargers, and other weird and incredible items lay on Ashot Harutyunyan’s work desk.
“The most powerful resource Dalarik village has is neither its agricultural lands nor its location. Dalarik is unique for its strong individuals,” says Lilith Hakobyan, the COAF Education Programs Manager and a former inhabitant of Dalarik village of the Armavir Province.