Getting Ready for the Harsh Winter in Armenia

Getting Ready for the Harsh Winter in Armenia

Participants in FRB’s Armenia-Shirak program are benefiting from their sheep in a way most Americans would not think of. Winter temperatures in Shirak Province – remote and mountainous and the coldest area in the country – can plummet to minus 30 degrees F. Families spend much of the year getting ready for this long and severe season. They preserve food by the gallon and keep it in storage for winter, and buy or collect wood in advance. If they have sheep, however, they can use the manure for heating their houses.

The two program communities have received aid and assistance from many sectors since the devastating 1988 earthquake but continue to experience poverty, food insecurity, and shrinking numbers as men and entire families emigrate for work. Armenia-Shirak’s developmental approach takes in the high level of social solidarity in the region which provides a solid basis for pass-on-the-gift sheep and poultry projects. People enjoy training sessions for the fellowship as much as the knowledge they acquire.

Since the program started in March of 2013, they’ve improved family and child health against the cold months by consuming eggs from their chickens. Knowing they are program partners rather than “beneficiaries,” they’ve been judiciously pricing, purchasing, and distributing grain every two months with financial support from the program. (Once they “graduate,” from the program, the community will be better able to produce its own grain). And they’ve been attending training sessions on child nutrition, hygiene, basic veterinary practices, and ways to improve their access to food and income in the long term so they no longer have to depend on foreign aid or leave in search of work.

As winter approaches, participants have also been preparing warm, safe and hygienic spaces for their animals. While sheep and shepherds spent the green months in the mountains, family members back home have been purchasing grass and feed and storing it in barns close to their homes. Trainings on basic veterinary practices and proper care and feeding of sheep and poultry were well attended, and now that the flocks are back they have been given injections against common diseases. People are using plastic sheeting to keep homes and barns warmer to protect themselves and their animals from the intense cold.

These Armenian families are looking forward to Christmas and New Year with happier hearts this year. Flour from the grain, milk from the sheep, and eggs from the chickens will help them bake holiday cakes and prepare traditional dishes. These celebrations of their strong community and faith are the best way of all to get through the winter.

FRB's Armenia-Shirak program encompasses 2 communities, 20 households and 550 individuals

11/22/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment