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Melanya Vardanyan: The woman who made a “revolution” in Vardenis

Teacher Melanya Vardanyan lives in Vardenis. She has worked for many years in the field of education, and in 2003 founded the “Astghavard” non-governmental organization of parents of children with disabilities. Within the framework of this project, the Children’s Development Center was established in Vardenis, where children of Vardenis city and adjacent communities received the opportunity to receive not only free rehabilitation treatment, but also organize their leisure.


Melania Yepremyan has worked for 15 years as a deputy director at Vardenis Medical College. His twin grandchildren were born in 2003. “Several months after birth, it turned out that children have a cerebral palsy that will lead to a disorder of the motor function. Regular visits to hospitals and rehabilitation centers have begun. The boys had a long-term treatment, “recalls Melania Yepremyan.


During the year, four times a month, family members had to move to Yerevan with children to receive rehabilitation treatment. His grandsons were first operated at the age of six, and then repeat the surgery at age 12. According to her she could feel the whole burden of suchlike problems on the example of her own family, and she knew well that in Vardenis there are many sick children and parents not always have possibility to leave for Yerevan and pass rehabilitation. So all these thoughts led her to a point when she decided to establish a rehabilitation center in Vardenis.


In 2004, Vardenis Municipality allocated Melania Yepremyan a non-profit organization to establish a rehabilitation center there. “We renovated the area through grants, donations, adapted it to children with special needs and decided to call the” Child Development Center “. We chose this name because many people and families in the provinces are still with many complexes and, unfortunately, they prefer to keep silent about children who have problems. We, of course, have made great strides in this direction, have overcome a lot, but we call the center “Children’s Development Center” so that not only the children who are having problems could attend but also others, “says Melania Yepremyan.


She recalls, at first, it was very difficult to explain families that going to the center would have a positive impact on their children.


Melania Yepremyan remembers that from the beginning she did not want the center to become a hospital. She emphasizes that at  “Child Development Center” they are not cured, but developing every child in the right direction: one receives physiotherapy, another learns the craftsmanship skills, and the third is working with a logopedist.


“I am convinced that such centers should be inclusive, in the very best sense of that word. We have equally children with certain problems, and just the children of the region. Everyone works together. We have day camps where children work together in a cafeteria. Besides, according to her, this is true for all children. They understand that none is more or less than anybody else.


After the foundation of the center a lot has changed in families of children with disabilities. After the foundation of the center, Melania Yepremyan is not a Yepremian-teacher as had been for many years, but now she is  Melan grandmother for those  in the Vardenis region.


As for physiotherapists, handicraft leaders and others working in the center, everyone works on a voluntary basis and is rewarded only if the center is provided with any grant.


Full text in Armenian

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