Nagorno-Karabkah 1998

blacksmith-horseshoePeace is fragile. In the years following wars in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan more than a million were exiled from their towns and villages, thousands killed and their disputes left in limbo. One of these areas is the mountain communities in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian populated area in Azerbaijani territory. People in the lands captured or destroyed have existed in a state of unresolved conflict since 1994. In the city of Berdzor, where the war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan saw much fighting, nothing remained but rubble.

It was said after the Soviet Union collapsed its children went from 1991 directly to 1971! And, that is true, Barri noted the destruction post war in Narogrno Kharabakh obliterated life in communities on both sides of the conflict and much of the cherished monuments of the Caucasus’ history. With only bombed out buildings, destroyed roads, no power or running water, the men and women in many towns and villages took up the pioneering life and constructed a church, school, homes and even a museum from the 1994 cease-fire and the 1999 SMMF grant.

One of the families that fled to Berdzore from a northern battle with the cloths on their back and a few of the tools they’d used as blacksmiths. Father, son and grandson chose to start again in their new home. A SMMF loan allowed them to construct a smithy and continue forging and selling or trading hammers, nails and farm tools to their new neighbors. Within a year and a half, they’d settled they repaid the money which went to two other re-settling families. This ‘loan’ has continued to serve the refugee community of Berdzor.