Here at Peace Exchange, we had passed it many times before while walking in the Paphos Gate area in Old Nicosia, without realising its significance.
It took a day trip with other Peace it Together partners to change that.
Unassuming from the outside, with its entrance located on tiny St Maron street, the Favierou Day Care Centre is revealed, once a visitor steps inside, to be a well-equipped, brightly-lit and welcoming oasis for the island’s severely disabled.
Having opened its doors in 1989, it caters to individuals from across the island who are unable to receive care via other means, due to the severity of their needs.
The visit aimed at bringing together various partners in order to explore possible synergies to boost the efforts of individual initiatives.
As with all such projects in Cyprus, and particularly in the richly-storied environment of the Old City of Nicosia, there is a moving story behind the Favierou Day Care Centre’s premises.
Indeed, if you listen to the podcast here, you will learn that Favierou House actually belongs to a Turkish Cypriot, Hasan Tahsin.
Mr. Tahsin was reunited with his Greek Cypriot colleague Petros Marcou from the 1960s, when the latter – acting in his role as President of the Association that runs the house – came to secure Tahsin’s consent to restore the house.
Mary Katsiolidou of the Association said there were daily activities at the Centre, including physiotherapy, music and drawing, as well as day trips – via the Centre’s two sturdy mini-buses – to sites such as olive mills – to offer an awareness of the social and cultural fabric of the island.
As we roamed the Centre’s well-kept, inviting and light-filled spaces, the atmosphere of gentleness, respect and genuine love for those for whom it was created, was palpable.
Indeed, what those who use the Centre need most of all is “love , acceptance and support,” said Katsiolidou. “They need to feel that they are surrounded by friends and that their moral and physical needs will be satisfied”.
“They’re satisfied with very little… just be there, and love them”
She went on to share the stories of two of the Centre’s members and how their lives had transformed.
One person had spent several years in a psychiatric facility and had been heavily sedated.
“When he arrived here, he hung his head down constantly, and would simply walk back and forth from one side of the common area to the next,” said Katsiolidou.
But as time went on, he became more and more relaxed and was content to sit and have people speak to him.
“He transformed from the removed, unreachable state he was in before,” said Katsiolidou.
Another story was of a teenager who suffered from severe epilepsy and lack of mobility. This left her parents with no options for her care and so she stayed at home.
She was taken in by the Centre even though she was below the official minimum age of 18, and, with time, “became a happy member of the team”.
The invaluable service offered by the Centre is limited only by its space and resources – it can accommodate the needs of a maximum of six individuals, so several disabled individuals remain on a waiting list.
Favierou is one of four facilities of its kind but, owing to a lack of funds, unlike the other sites, is unable to cater for individuals from all communities at the present moment.
A push to create such funds and support, as well as an open invitation to all members of society to volunteer their time and special skills to those served by the Centre, is thus on an ongoing ‘to-do’ list.
For more information about the Favierou Day Care Centre, you can contact Mary Katsiolidou at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, a 10-minute bus ride away, in the Arabahmet district of the Old City, another Culture Heritage project, the 14th-century Armenian Church and Monastery is also displaying the signs of an almost five-million-dollar effort to conserve this important cultural and historic landmark.
Wandering inside its walls, the re-tiling of the Church and Monastery complex’s sprawling courtyards has almost been completed, the prelature and three school buildings have been restored and the Church itself returned to its former glory.
Lighting has been placed at key points in the complex, looking forward to a time when the space will be opened up for the public to roam and enjoy.
“UNDP’s mission was to come up with the design plans and fund the complex’s conservation,” noted Cultural Heritage Programme Associate Pelin Maneoglu, adding that she is hopeful a plan will be put into place as a means of generating income for further upkeep and development of the area.
Nonetheless, research was ongoing on UNDP’s side, to find potential international organisations who might be interested to involve the Church complex in their own work and be a part of a future plan to keep the site financially self-sufficient.
A stone’s throw away from the Church itself, the Melikian Mansion building – which dates back to the 13th century – has had supporting structures placed all around, securing its crumbling walls and ensuring, at least for the next few decades – that it is kept from collapse.
Further funding, if it can be found, said Maneoglu, could potentially turn this building into an archaeological park.
For now, however, the plan is to section it off from the main complex, to ensure no passerby runs the danger of straying into an area that, despite its support, remains vulnerable.
Peace Exchange looks forward to bringing you updates in future posts.
That’s all for this time, but we’ll be back again with more good stuff soon.
Until then, stay warm and dry and… see you in the next post!