Recipe for success: believe in yourself, do not rush and have patience (PHOTOS)
For a resident of Nyzhnye Selyshche in Transcarpathia, the most important thing is to have a cow. Then you will be fine. 13 years ago, the socio-economic project was launched there - Selyshche cheese factory. Cheese made the village famous, and gave people opportunity to earn money. True connoisseurs of ecologial products and tourists became regular visitors to Selyshche.
The construction of the Selyshche cheese factory took about eight years. The director Petro Pryhara, mathematician and economist by education, studied the intricacies of cheese making in Switzerland. He says, over the years, thirty or forty thousand tourists have visited the cheese factory.
"It began in far away 1994, when the group went to France - to see the Longomay cooperative and to think what we could do in this depressed village, in this valley - Petro recollects. - Something that neither big business nor the government can do. We decided that it should be a socio-economic project, which most of the population would be involved in. People must feel financial and economic support."
In 2013, when the cheese factory was finally opened and started to buy milk from the population, the price was such that if a person would bring 3 liters of milk in the morning and 3 liters in the evening, they could earn the same amount as their pension. It was a substantial support for the village. During that time, more than half of 1000 households would sell milk to the cheese factory at least once.
Today, the number of cows in the village, despite the Ukrainian socio-economic crisis, has not decreased. "It has even increased, precisely because of the economic situation - Petro Pryhara says. - This winter we had a lot of milk. And we keep prices at a reasonable level, so people are coming. Milk in the Carpathians is the best that can be!"
The Selyshche cheese factory produces three kinds of cheese. Everything is made exclusively through natural process. Cheese ripens in a special cellar with a fixed temperature. "Selyshche", "Khust" and "Narcissus of the Carpathians" - these are the names given to the products to promote the village and Transcarpathia.
Nyzhnye Selyshche "feeds" several villages
Milk for cheese production is also collected from the surrounding villages. Some members of the staff are also from there. Tetyana commutes to Selyshche from Kopashnyovo by bus. She says that it is difficult to find work in the district, there are few active businesses.
The woman's job is to wash cheese in brine. It is a manual work, also each block of cheese must be cleaned on special equipment and put on boards to ripen. "We bring new cheese every morning, dip it in salt bath" - Tetyana likes the work.
A resident of the village Vasylyna is one of the oldest milk suppliers. She comes to the cheese factory every morning. After lunch, she takes the whey, that is left after cheese making, for piglets.
This summer, an intern is working at the cheese factory. Daryna Bortnik comes from Dnipropetrovsk, was sent to study in France under a special program, and then for internship... to Transcarpathia. In Khust district, she is studying sheep cheese and looking for sheep farmers. In official offices, they gave her contacts of seven men. The girl herself, making several kilometers a day in the mountains, has found as many as 42 sheep farmers.
"I am often asked why I came from France to practice in Transcarpathia. Our cheese is no worse than European. Everyone knows cheeses of France, Switzerland, but we make great products too. I decided to study them. My first master degree is in accounting and audit, I kept records of small businesses, including cheese factories. After practicing, I changed my goal and decided not to be an accountant, but to be closer to manufacturing of traditional products," - Daryna says, starting a "Niva", which she drives in villages and mountains, where there are roads. Where there are not, she has to walk.
Living and making money in Ukrainian countryside is possible
The cheese factory in Selyshche is not the only successful project. They renovated the country club, set up plumbing, established an eco-farm. Popular music and theater festivals are held in Selyshche.
"One of the problems of Ukrainian business is that people do not have time, they want to make money now and a lot. In any kind of business, it takes at least 3-5 years to start making profit. The first years may even be loss-making" - Petro Pryhara says.
"Bureaucratic system has always been in the way, we all were there. But I was young. I had time and strong support. I am notorius for never giving bribes. It helps me now. But now, there is more responsibility. I can not close the cheese factory and leave the people to their own resources. Earlier this year, when the inflation went up, I set a task for myself to keep the team. I did not make any drastic changes in prices, raised wages for workers, which my friends thought was strange. I believe that our employees should be happy and confident. I think I succeeded," - the cheese-maker says.
Petro says that while he was taking an active part in the Maidan, he somewhat neglected the cheese factory. But then he realized that he had to get back to business, especially since the political situation somewhat stabilized. He believes that if a person works, he or she can do everything.
One of the example is 4.5-kilometer-long water supply piping which he and associates from the NGO laid from the "Khreshchatyk" tract to the village center.
Living in countryside is possible, local people say, you just have to believe in yourself, not to hurry and have patience.
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