Tag Archives: Emili Aregak Day Care Centre for Children with Multiple Disabilities

On 14 September, “Aregak” bakery and coffee shop opened its doors, the product of the “First Inclusive Bakery and Coffee Shop in Gyumri” project. Co-financed by the European Union, the Austrian Development Cooperation, and Caritas Austria, the project has been implemented by the Emili Aregak Centre of Armenian Caritas.

DSC_8795Emili Aregak is Gyumri’s primary support and resource center for young people with multiple disabilities; therefore, it seeks to foster the integration of children with disabilities aged 2 to 18 and their families into society so that they are treated equally. The “Aregak” bakery and coffee shop is a clear manifestation of this mission: it is a model for discovering the potential of young people with disabilities, for creating inclusive environments, and for promoting visibility and understanding. The bakery will also provide Gyumri with delicious breads, pastries, and coffee. In addition to the bakery and coffee shop, the project covers: herb gardening; training and cooperation; therapeutic handicraft work; public awareness raising. The two-year project’s overall objective is to create opportunities to involve young people with disabilities in the labour market. Target groups include youth and adults with disabilities, their parents and the Emili Aregak Day Care Centre for Children with Multiple Disabilities in Gyumri. The total project budget is €300,000, of which the European Union contribution is €269,187.

DSC_8540The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, thanked all the supporters of the project: ‘There are several reasons why this project has special value for the EU and for me. I am very proud that, in the last ten years of my career, we have promoted social entrepreneurship. This is the third project that I have opened in the past month. Social entrepreneurship is very European, and one in four businesses starting up in Europe is social. This project will not create many jobs, yet Armenia needs many jobs. That said, we hope the experience of social entrepreneurship creates a domino effect help to create new jobs. We are also deeply committed to empowering people with disabilities. Europe believes that the idea of second-class citizens has no place in our societies. Everyone must feel equal. Finally, we would like to see Gyumri as an example of an inclusive city. Last of all, there is a personal reason why this project is important to me – my great grandfather owned a bakery more than 100 years ago’.

DSC_8596Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia Zaruhi Batoyan congratulated the citizens of Gyumri: ‘A job is a guarantee of a decent life. Unfortunately, I must note that the Government of Armenia has been somewhat behind in terms of creating equal opportunities. We need to do a lot, take bigger steps, and make bigger investment to fill these gaps. I cannot stress enough the importance of cooperation between the community, government, and international organisations’.