Lichk, Armenia. Life without men

In the streets of Lichk, an Armenian village, one meet mothers, daughters, sisters. But almost no men. To escape poverty, 90% of them exile themselves in Russia during eight or nine months, in search of work. They are farmers worker, drivers but also banker, students, school director, musical director and there they work as builders. Leaving Lichk's women carrying out alone the tough lives of family, between loneliness and waiting.
 

Text: Anaïs Coignac

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Lichk, Armenia. Life without men

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 Early in the morning, Ruzanna prepares bed mattress for her children with sheep wool bought a few days ago.
Ana's daughters are playing in the garden. Their father works in Russia.
Ruzanna, a villager. For the last fifteen years, her husband is going back and forth to work in Russia. She has two son, the oldest Gore (22) is also working in Russia. Valodia (19) is doing his service. Gohar, her 15 years old daughter lives with her.
Nvard, the daughter in law of the village's healer. Her husband is in Russia. He went to work there a few weeks after their wedding. So she lives with her mother in law.
The departure of goose in the morning.
For a long time Seda's husband was going back and forth to Russia but now he stays in Lichk. She has 3 sons, all in Russia. Some days ago they celebrated the birthday of the youngest, 18, in his absence. He went to Russia at the end of the school year.
Anoush and Ruzanna, prepare lavash, the traditional Armenian bread. Women prepare it in large quantities and then keep it for one or two weeks. It's a way of saving money. Their husbands are brothers and both work in Russia.
Anoush cook canned peppers. The cans are stored for the winter. The village's families are almost self-subsistent: fruits and vegetables from the garden, milk, butter and cheese from the cows, homemade lavash. However the work to obtain this is huge.
Boxing lessons. A school teacher explains that in the absence of fathers, boys are feminizing and not stick to the image of the Armenian manly. For the children, his workouts are the opportunity to learn boxing and to be "educated".
Lilith, Anoush's daughter
This is the time to prepare cans. Several days of work will be needed to prepare the stock for the winter. Anoush is slicing peppers while Ruzanna cooks them. In the same time they are watching Naïre, Ruzanna's daugher.
Anoush is preparing canned peppers in the outbuilding of the house.
Anoush is calling her husband in Russia. On her the right are her two daughters, Lilith is doing Asmik's hair.
Tonight, Lilith decided she will dry her mother's hair (Anoush). It's a moment of complicity and laughing between mother and daughter.
The children of Tamara (2nd from the left) are in Russia so she has to harvest potatoes. Her neighbors came to give her a hand. Without men, the solidarity between women neighbors and friends can lighten the work tasks.
Women from the villages fetch their cows in the evening.
On Saturday morning, a teacher comes from Yerevan in several villages of the region to give traditional dance lessons. About fifty students of all ages are dancing with him in Lichk.
Lilith, Anoush's daugther, fell asleep with the photo album of her father. He went to Russia to work for years to earn money to build them a house in the village.
After cleaning the wool purchased a few days ago Ruzanna dries it and tapes it regularly to "unravel" the threads. Ruzanna is drying and hitting the whool she bought few days ago to "unravel" the thread, after she has cleaned t.
Asya (right) cooks lavash with her neighbor Venera (left). The 3 daughters of Asya are married to men working in Russia. Her young son Artashes studies economics and works every summer in Russia. Once he finishes his studies, he intends to work in Russia.
An everyday scene in a small street of the village: a lady is sorting hemp seeds that she'll use for cooking later.
Today is the feast of the dead, the villagers go to the cemetery. They burn incense on the graves and will leave candy as offering. Ana (left) and Elvira (right) (cousins ​​by marriage) go there together. Their husbands are in Russia.
Every day they're here, it is the point of gathering for the old men of the village. They play cards, talk, play with their rosaries and tell how life has become difficult here.
 The hairdresser/manicure just opened 4 months ago in the village. This is the only place in town dedicated to well-being and relaxation of women.
The football field of the village. There are no sports club in Lichk except boxing for boys and dance for girls, but children improvise games.
Cirush fetches her cow in the evening. Her husband and one of her sons work in Russia. Her other son is doing his military service in Nagorno-Karabakh. So Cirush make her own way and takes care of her stepmother, aged 90.
At Anoush's and Ruzanna's house. Ruzanna is doing the dishes while she must keep a look on her young daughter Naïre
Anoush picks pears in the garden of the cousin of her husband. With it she will do what Armenians call the "compote" a fruit juice in which the fruit marinate. They keep it in jars, this is one of the favorite children's sweet.
Daily life in the village streets. Tonight the women gather to chat while one of them sorts some fruits.
The morning. A butcher just killed two calves of a local woman, so women join to buy meat.
Emma 58 years preparing his field herbs before making wheels.
Seda sorts hemp seeds she will use for cooking. She picks it up on the plants she grows in her garden.
Anik. Her husband, her son and the husband of her daughter work in Russia. She must organize the wedding of her son but she has not yet found him a wife. She already bought the engagement ring and the couple's room is ready for them to move in.
Anik's house. She lives alone while her husband and her son are both working in Russia. Her future daughter in law will live with her while her son will work in Russia.
Anoush is picking up cow pat in the cowshed, to dry them off after having brought the cos in the upland around the village. This will be used as a combustible
 This morning, in the uplands around the village, a lady brings her cows to the point of gathering where the shepherd of the village comes to collect them to take them out to pasture.
 A villager just finished preparing cans for the winter. Her husband works in Russia too.
Sevan Lac is a few hundred meters from Lichk. Fishing has been a major economic activity in the area for a long time. The region also lived on agriculture and on some industry (mineral water, capacitors) with are now closed.
Anoush is picking up potatoes with her father-in-law, the only man in the house. She lives with Ruzanna, her sister-in-law (their husbands are brothers and both works in Russia), the five children of the two couples, and their parents-in-law.
Asmik is polishing her shoes before going to dance school.
Anoush brings her daughter Lilith to the village's healer. Every night, she has nightmares that keeps her awake.
Anoush and Ruzanna are watching TV with three of their children.
An itinerant seller comes regularly with her husband to sell clothes to women of Lichk.
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