Caritas Armenia helps disabled children and their families in “Emil’s Sun”

Caritas Armenia helps disabled children and their families in “Emil’s Sun”.

“Every child has the right to go to school and have access to education, including children with disabilities, this is our philosophy” explained Tigranuhi Akopyan, the director of the daily center of Caritas Armenia “Emili Aregak” or “Emil’s Sun”.

Volunteers in the kitchen.There are at least 60 children ranging from ages 3 to 18 years with disabilities who visit the center. Specialized teachers, therapists and volunteers are there to help children as much as possible on how to enroll in the school. They try teaching children to act on their own, do their daily chores and improve their confidence necessary for overcoming the public prejudices.

There is a stigma attached to being disabled in their country which causes mothers to suffer. “In Armenia, there are more and more people who believe it is a mother’s fault for bearing a disabled child. It is common to see fathers leave the family, which leads to poverty and exclusion from the society,” Tigranuhi confirmed.

Regular schools do not willingly accept children with extra special needs. They are often placed in inappropriate rooms that are mostly not barrier-free and there is a lack of professionally trained teachers. The majority of teachers do not have the professional communication training to deal with disabled children and the children’s inability to work on their own seems to be problematic for them. The better the center prepares children for managing the routine chores, the more likely they will be ready to engage in the normal school and class routine.

Musicotherapy.In the day center, the children also receive the services of physiotherapists and are provided with breakfasts and lunches. Mothers who volunteer, cook with bio products purchased from the local producers. Moreover, the children have the access to four bathrooms with hot water that children from poor families especially appreciate in winter when the temperatures get as low as -25C and families cannot afford proper heating.

Among other services, there is also a music-therapist who teaches children to use music to express themselves. An animator conducts activities that support collaboration and organizes various celebrations. In creative workshops, children learn how to work with the nature materials such as wood, hay, stones or mud.

“Emil's Sun” center was established thanks to the sponsorship of Emil Nachbauer who has been in a wheelchair for forty years. The building was designed by architect Richard Nikolussi. It has one of the most extensive photovoltaic systems in Kavkaz, and a geothermal heat pump, making it a prime example of a self-sustaining building. The institution is run by the Caritas Armenia.

The article was taken from the blog caritas.eu.