Mission Øst Inklusion Garick aktivist i Armenien
By Karen Sophie Krag 12 Apr 2023 |

I am first and foremost a human being

22-year-old Garick has cerebral palsy and faces countless challenges in his daily life. He lives in a remote village in the Tavush Marz province of Armenia, where 37.5% of the population lives in poverty.

Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. But many children and young people with disabilities are denied this in Armenia. Because of discrimination and poverty, but also because of other barriers such as living in isolation.

Mission East is tackling this in cooperation with our local partner organization Bridge of Hope.

Obstacles in life

Garick was born with cerebral palsy (spastic paralysis) and has difficulty controlling movement and speech. He is confined to a wheelchair and has never been able to walk. He lives in a small remote village with his mother Zaenna who takes care of him.

There is a lot to say about Garick. He is smart, social, caring and funny. He dreams of learning English and taking an IT course that will allow him to earn a living.

About life with a disability, Garick says:

- In many ways, it's depriving me of freedom. I feel isolated and can't move around without my mother. And when we move outside our home, we face many obstacles. They are both in the city's infrastructure and buildings, but also in people's prejudices.

Everyone has the right to be heard

In collaboration with Bridge of Hope, Mission East works to create better conditions for children and young people with disabilities. We do this through four rehabilitation centers in Tavush Marz province.

Here, children and young people with disabilities can go for rehabilitation, join a social community and develop personally and professionally. At the centers, children and young people with disabilities also learn about their rights so that they can access the public services to which they are entitled.

- Children always have the right to be heard and involved in matters that affect them and their well-being. Not all children and young people with disabilities know this, but they learn this here with us, says Armine Nersisyan, Bridge of Hope center manager in Ijevan.

Garick has been part of the Bridge of Hope rehabilitation center in Ijevan since he was two years old. He has participated in various activities over the years and completed basic education with the support of Bridge of Hope.

A valuable youth life

Bridge of Hope is more than just a rehabilitation center for Garick:

- Bridge of Hope is my friends. My family. They have done EVERYTHING for me. They have given me a valuable youth life, knowledge and tools that I wouldn't have had otherwise," says Garick.

Bridge of Hope is impressed by Garick's development and the courage he shows. Especially because he is at the forefront of promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in Bridge of Hope's advocacy group:

- My disability becomes valuable because I actively use it to break down prejudices. I want to convince society that we are human beings first and foremost. Therefore, we also deserve to be heard and included in the community," Garick concludes.

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