Members of the Grigoryan family at the Zhangyalov Hats Bistro

Economic Sustainability Program for Armenian Families Supported by Knights of Vartan


YEREVAN — The Knights of Vartan has initiated a comprehensive Economic Sustainability Program for Artsakh refugees, along with support for local Armenian families in communities where Artsakh refugees reside.

In October 2023, the organization launched a humanitarian project to provide immediate assistance to relocated Artsakh refugee families. This initiative included funding for urgent needs such as housing, food, heaters, washing machines, and other household appliances during the initial months for over 200 Artsakh families dispersed throughout Armenia.

Beginning in 2024, the Knights of Vartan will launch its Economic Sustainability Program to create job growth and provide sustainable economic activity in local communities in Armenia. The essential need for refugee families is to help them return to work, rebuild their lives, and help them generate sufficient income to sustain their expenses and thrive in their homeland. This program is designed to empower families by providing the tools and resources they need for long-term self-sustainability.

The financial burden of housing rent, family expenses, and the initiation of economic projects is overwhelmingly high for Artsakh families. Recognizing this challenge, the Knights of Vartan stepped in to provide crucial support.

The Knights of Vartan remain dedicated to empowering Artsakh families to ensure that they overcome the economic hurdles and build sustainable futures in Armenia. “While the immediate help we provided in 2023 addressed a pressing need, empowering individuals with the means to sustain themselves creates a lasting impact. This program focuses on long-term solutions, fostering independence and resilience among the Armenian people.” said Hunan Arshakian, Grand Commander of the Knights of Vartan.  “The program demonstrates the biblical proverb, Give a man a fish, and He will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and He will eat for a lifetime,” he added.

Karen Gabrielyan at work

In December 2023, two beneficiaries, the Gabrielyan family, and the Grigorian family, were the first two applicants approved under the program. Karmen Gabrielyan, along with his wife and two children, had to flee Taghavard, Artsakh on September 19, 2023, finding refuge in Nor Hajn near Abovyan town. This marked the second time in two years that the Gabrielyan family lost their home, livelihood, and all their possessions, navigating the challenges of survival as refugees.

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In 2022, the Knights of Vartan provided tools for Karmen to work in Artsakh. Unfortunately, these had to be left behind during the recent escape due to space constraints. Once again, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan stepped in, offering financial support for Karmen to acquire additional tools essential for continuing his work. This assistance reflects the ongoing commitment of Knights and Daughters of Vartan to empower individuals like Karmen, enabling them to rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities.

In his heartfelt application, Karmen expressed, “I need tools to work so that I can feed my family.”

On December 24, 2023, Karmen received funding for new replacement equipment through the Knights of Vartan Economic Sustainability Program for Artsakh refugees. The same day, Karmen successfully purchased 29 large and small tools essential for his work. Now equipped with new tools, he is in the process of rebuilding his life once again. Karmen’s expertise spans electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, flooring, tiling, and home-building construction. He, despite the setbacks, commutes daily to work at various construction sites in Yerevan to earn income.

With these upgraded tools and equipment, Karmen anticipates securing employment and delivering better-quality work on construction sites in and around Yerevan. The positive impact of the Knights of Vartan’s assistance extends beyond providing tools; it contributes to the broader goal of fostering economic sustainability and community integration for Artsakh refugees like Karmen.

Zhangyalov Hats; The first test

The Grigorian family wanted to use their experience and culinary skills to start a bakery business to make a living and rebuild their lives. Although Yerevan boasts numerous Zhangyalov Hats bistros, most are concentrated in the city center, with few extending to the suburbs. Recognizing this gap, the Grigoryan family, refugees from Artsakh, identified an opportunity to offer authentic and delicious Zhangyalov Hats from Artsakh Situated in the 9th Massive, an area towards the outskirts of Yerevan characterized by tall apartment buildings and supermarkets, there was a noticeable absence of cafes and bistros.

Seeing the potential in this underserved location, the Grigoryan family developed a simple business plan and proposal. In this family-run business, each member, from the student grandchild to the 75-year-old grandma, contributes to its success. Grandma takes the lead in cooking and ensuring the highest quality.

Gayane, the mother of the family, shared, “I wasn’t sure what to do after enduring all these hardships, but this project from the Knights of Vartan truly saved us. It provided us with a meaningful endeavor to stay busy with, to create and share, and, of course, to earn income for our family.”

The family leased and promptly renovated the bistro area, investing their efforts, while the equipment was acquired through funding from the Knights of Vartan. Now, the entire family is working hard to operate the establishment, addressing challenges step by step. The daughters created a Facebook page for the bistro, showcasing the offerings, while the grandma introduced delectable new bites that are also available for delivery.

The Knights of Vartan extend a helping hand to our compatriots through economic projects like these, by enabling them to rebuild their lives. The resilience and collaborative spirit of communities are essential in overcoming challenges and building brighter futures. The journey of refugee families like the Grigoryan family and Gabrielyan family serves as a testament to the perseverance, diligence, and tenacity of Armenians who, compelled by the need to escape genocide and persecution, have bravely embarked on the arduous task of rebuilding their lives in Armenia.

The Knights and Daughters of Vartan are continuing to raise funds to support this economic recovery program. To learn more about the program, how to donate, and stay current on the economic recovery efforts through their website,

For more information about the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, visit

— Gohar Palyan


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