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Youths with Down syndrome run cafe at Damascus festival

China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-12 10:43

DAMASCUS, Syria - Young Syrians with Down syndrome are taking part in a monthlong festival in Damascus, running their own coffee shop.

The activity is part of an initiative by the Juzour Association, a local charitable organization that runs several humanitarian projects, one of which is organizing events for people with Down syndrome.

The young men and women now serve in a coffee shop called Succet. The organizers hope to see a wider scale beyond a festival.

At the sprawling Tishreen Park in Damascus, many youths with the Down syndrome wear uniforms. Some are serving the tables while others are standing behind a bar preparing juice and coffee.

The happiness is seen on their faces as they talk with other people while enjoying a break time singing and dancing with their family members sitting nearby.

Such an activity aims to help these young people to integrate into the society.

Muhannad, 26, said that he usually stays indoors with nothing to do.

He said that he is happy now because he can do something that could fill his time and help him meet people outside his family circle.

"I was staying at home without doing anything but here I get to work to host and serve coffee and tea.... I am happy with my friends here," Muhannad said.

His friend, Aya, wears a beautiful smile all the time during the work time.

"I can make cappuccino and juice and I am so happy," she said.

Aya said that she likes drawing and dreams to be an artist on day.

Kholoud Rajab, chairman of the board of directors of the Juzour Association, said that the aim of their association is to break the stereotype of feeling sorry to the people with Down syndrome and help them enter into an era where they are embedded in society.

"We could give these people their full rights ... to get proper education and an opportunity to express themselves."

"We shall develop the tools so that they could achieve success in life," she said.

Her assistant, Saleh al-Isamel, the executive director of the Juzour Association, said that the organization has a long-term plan to help people with Down syndrome. The aim is to transition the festival cafe into a permanent institution and then spread the mainstreaming concept throughout Syria.

First of all, more financial support is needed.

"We are currently faced with many obstacles because we need financial support, so that the bigger vision of this project cannot see the light," Isamel said.


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