Over the course of seven months of blockade, Elina's journey has led her closer to the world of gardening. This path was ignited by a handful of seeds generously provided by Armine Arzangulyan, a dedicated social worker based in Stepanakert who underwent training through FAR’s Social Workers for Artsakh initiative.
In the beginning of the blockade of the Lachin corridor in late December 2022, Elina found herself facing the challenges of being a single mother to 2-year-old Luse. Residing in Stepanakert, Elina harbored a desire to cultivate her own garden plot. At this point, she contacted Armine, asking her to help find a small land for cultivating different crops.
"I never thought that this modest parcel of land would not only secure essential nourishment for Luse and me during these hard times but also extend a helping hand to other mothers affected by the blockade, deprived of access to food," revealed 21-year-old Elina Balasanyan. Her garden flourishes with an array of produce - carrots, basil, onions, beans, peppers, tomatoes - a symphony of diverse vegetables. Notably, alongside her sales, she extends her benevolence to those in need, providing her harvest free of charge.
Elina's vegetables have also enabled her to participate in a barter system, often trading her vegetables for eggs or milk; items that have become rare commodities on the empty shelves in the stores of Artsakh. "Through a Facebook group chat, we communicate our necessities and frequently engage in product exchanges," she said, emphasizing that her survival, alongside that of her child's, would have been untenable without the invaluable support of the land plot and the seeds.
“I’d like to engage in beekeeping as well. If not for the blockade, I would have applied for a program suited for this purpose, as the plot is large and fenced, and I have variety of crops. I hope to realize this aspiration someday.”