Sunday, 17 November

From Syunik to Switzerland: Photo Taken of Young Vanouhie Wins Swiss Competition

12 year-old Vanouhie helps her grandfather sell locally grown produce at the stone pillars along the highway marking the entrance to Syunik Marz in Armenia.

Last year, a group of Swiss tourists stopped at the roadside stand and one of them took her picture. It’s now won a photo contest and the photographer has returned to obtain the consent of the girl’s parents to include it in a photo album to be published.

The girl’s parents didn’t know that Vanouhie’s picture had garnered such acclaim back in Switzerland.

She’s a shy girl, but, as her grandfather relates, Vanouhie can take care of the family business in her absence. “The girl always makes the correct change and takes care of the customers. My granddaughter is one of the best pupils in the school,” beams Grandpa Rafik.

When we pulled the car over to stretch our legs, we approached the young vendor. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the earrings it would have been hard to say whether the smiling kid was a boy or a girl. Her short cropped thick hair was hidden under her cap.

Grandpa Rafik was doing most of the talking while a somewhat embarrassed Vanouhie stood alongside, her eyes gazed downwards. The most she’d do was mutter a shy yes or no.

The family used to live in Hrazdan but relocated to the villageof Saravanin Vayots Dzor.

Vanouhie’s father raises livestock and her mother collects wild mushrooms and other herbs from the fields to sell. Her brother catches fish from the local waters for sale as well.

The young girl has been selling the family’s produce for the past two years and has become a savvy retailer.

“Apricots are the best selling item and the Iranians are the best customers,” says Vanouhie.

Coming into contact with international tourists, the young girl has picked up a smattering of foreign words and phrases.

She told us that on occasion Iranian tourists have left without paying but that Armenians cheat her in this manner more often.

“A car full of Armenians stopped and wanted some cherries. They took the fruit and ran back to their car and sped off,” Vanouhie related.

The girl said the perpetrators were grown men who took advantage of her.

But Vanouhie says it’s water under the bridge and smiles when she tells the story to us.

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Comments (6)
1. daniel saroyan02:15 - 12 June, 2012
I vote for Vanouhie for president of Armenia. She definitely represents the "new" future.
2. Levik11:00 - 12 June, 2012
What a wonderful smile on this charming young Armenian girl. Dear Vanouhie, don't change a thing and keep your positive outlook on life. Kids like you are Armenia's hope for the future.
3. zohrab13:40 - 12 June, 2012
inch aghvore vanougebravo vanoug
4. Satenig Bullyan02:14 - 13 June, 2012
Yes. I also give my vote to Vanouhie to become the first female president of Armenia.
5. Anton A21:06 - 13 June, 2012
Vanouhie's story is a microcosm of what is wrong with our society today. When a bunch of heartless adults steal cherries from an innocent little girl and run away like hyenas, I can't help but equate this rampant, jungle-like behavior to the countless unethical government officials who perform the same act in different roles on the stage of life; they too siphon off the livelihood out of Armenia's downtrodden population. In both of these analogical cases the story is one and the same. Vanouhie, the ingenue with that beautiful smile, is indeed my archetypal heroine shining through ever more brightly against the background of those spineless dark charlatans who unwittingly provided her with the contrast she needed.
6. Ohan21:31 - 13 June, 2012
We should all be like Vanouhie with a smile on her face and looking positively towards the future. No wonder that Swiss photographer snapped her picture. If only all Armenia's kids had her outlook on life instead of sullen, morose faces. Dejection is a state of mind that Vanouhie seems to have thrown off. Local schools should invite her to give some positive reinforcement to her peers. But alas, many Armenian educators can't see a golden opportunity when it stares them in the face. I wish that Hetq could track down more positive representations in the yout of Armenia.
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