The Outsider's Insider

A Guide to Living in Yerevan

Yeghvard On My Mind – by Tim Straight July 27, 2010

Filed under: Tim Straight,Uncategorized — outsidersinsider @ 12:39 pm
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I was in Yeghvard last week. The Yeghvard in Syunik, not the one just over the Davidashen bridge in Kotayk.
Six days later, I am still thinking about that little village of 320 souls perched on the edge of everything.
We drove into little Yeghvard some 10 hours after leaving Yerevan, having traveled first to Tatev, with its magnificent but weary church\fortress complex. From the main road up to Tatev there basically is no road at all. Gravel flies as I surge up where the road used to be, deep gashes in the road cut by rain showers some months ago. Sharp swings one after the other.
Once finished with snapping pictures and climbing ramparts, we headed the back way out of Tatev and started the five quarters of an hour trip up up up and down down down to Kapan. Crossing the main road again, we wound our way up the other side of the valley through the villages of Syunik and Agarak, and rolled into Yeghvard as the sun was setting.
We stopped in front of the house where the Land and Culture group of young American-, Lebanese- and French-Armenians were keeping house. As I climbed out of the car, I noticed that the facade of the house on the opposite side of the road, facing towards Karabakh, had deep holes in it. My experience from the war in Bosnia told me that the grenade had landed in the garden, and the blast splattered metal bits up the wall. I hadn’t seen that much in Armenia, only up in the villages on the Azerbaijani border in Tavush. It sobered me.
I asked the mayor how long the bombing had gone on during the conflict. He told me that it started in 1991, and ended in May of 1994. He also told me that one person was killed in the village during a grenade attack. It struck me that these must be tough people, to have endured three years of bombing.
After taking a long look at the stunningly beautiful church that the Diaspora youth are renovating, the mayor invited us for dinner in the garden of his house. The conversation was lively, the food was excellent. Traditional Armenian table… the greens, the cheese, the olives, the khorovatz, and a rich amount of local wine and vodka.
We talked about life in Yeghvard.
Every house in the village has a couple of beehives, and the honey from those supplements their income. They don’t sell the wax, only the honey. I see images of beeswax candles, beeswax lip balm, and beeswax something in my head. But who will see the opportunity and follow up?
The library in Yeghvard got one new book last year. One.
The people of Yeghvard have trouble growing crops because they get one hour of irrigation water per week. One. Per week.
I asked the mayor where they get their irrigation water from. He said the source is seven kilometers away, but that there is not enough water at the source. A better source, which would serve not only Yeghvard, but surrounding clusters of houses (some 640 people in all) is twenty-five kilometers away.
I did a rough head estimate…25 kilometers of 10 cm pipe at a price of AMD 3000 pr. meter(really a rough guess) means that to bring irrigation water to Yeghvard would cost USD 200.000 or so. Exclusive of labor, excavation equipment, etc.
Not an uplifting situation.
I love villages like Yeghvard. Nerkin Karmiraghbyur in Tavush is another one of my favorites. The people of these villages were on the front line during the conflict, and bore the brunt of it. They are strong, they are proud, they are solid.
So how does one help a village like Yeghvard? They have so much against them, most of it geography… far from Yerevan, far from their water source.
I hope this blog post will raise an eyebrow, plant a thought.
Yeghvard, I am still thinking about you.

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One Response to “Yeghvard On My Mind – by Tim Straight”

  1. I want to thank you Tim for a really thought provoking and lovely post! I also want to thank you for keeping my blog going while I am away. It’s really difficult to think about info people need about Armenia when I’m not there!!!
    To everyone else…. I will be back in Armenia on August 18th and will have the blog in full swing soon after!!!!


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