The village shares a 18 km border with Azerbaijan, and faces the constant threat of artillery fire and escalating tensions. In a scene from a documentary film about the community, Lorik Badiryan, the head of the village, points to a projectile missile that landed in the walls of the village's kindergarten building. Although the children were not harmed, the missile is a constant reminder of the potential for violence. Many in the village have fought heroically in order to defend Armenian land. And yet, Vazashen is not only struggling within its geo-political context, but also economically. "It's dangerous to neglect people living at the border", said Armine Petrosyan, director of “Hye Dzmer Pap” Charitable Foundation. "They need to feel a strong sense of support and must have the ability to maintain a livelihood. If cannot make a living in these villages, they will move elsewhere".
In fact, this process has already begun. A brochure for the flyer indicates that only "200 (out of the original population of 370 families) are left in the community, and many of those remaining also have family members who have emigrated". The project aims to decrease the burdens associated with living in villages like Vazashen. If the village economy can be stimulated, more residents will have the possibility to live and work in decent conditions.
Vazashen is not the only village bordering Azerbaijan and is certainly not the only village in Armenia that is struggling economically. The hope is therefore that these organizations can establish a working model that can be replicated in other regions throughout Armenia.
The panel included Armine Petrosyan, director of “Hye Dzmer Pap” Charitable Foundation Anna Grigoryan, Hi-Artonline Fine Arts Center, Sevan Naghashian, curator of “Art on the Border” exhibition, Lusine Kassarjian, consultant of the exhibition, Tigran Asatrian, artist. They discussed the short-term and long-term goals of the project, encouraging strong participation from the community. "Helping our people is not a form of charity, it's an obligation", Armine Petrosyan insisted.