This Turkish Cafe Only Employ Workers With Down Syndrome

When we talk of attempting a mature approach to a once shunned medical condition – this could be the perfect example.

This Turkish Cafe Only Employ Workers With Down SyndromeA café in Istanbul is making headlines for exclusively hiring people with Down syndrome. The aptly named ‘Down Café’ opened its doors in 2011 in one the well-off neighbourhoods of Istanbul that employs staff between the ages of 18 and 25, and aims to empower them with self-confidence and independence.

This Turkish Cafe Only Employ Workers With Down SyndromeSaruhan Singen, who founded the café in the Sisli district of Istanbul, said that he was inspired by his own experience of raising a daughter with Down syndrome.

I have Sezil and I think she is a gift to me  to understand others like her. When we think about the number of people with Down syndrome, there is not a wide range of career paths available,” Singen said.

According to Singen, when the cafe first opened in 2011, business was slow as potential customers hesitated to enter. Those who did enter the cafe appeared aloof but, once the initial surprise wore off, they started to appreciate the ambiance. The employees work alternately and receive a monthly salary. Open from 9 to 5 on weekdays, the cafe can host a total of 40 customers.

This Turkish Cafe Only Employ Workers With Down Syndrome

I think the cafe also helps people get rid of their prejudices against disabled people and provides a chance to people with Down syndrome to prove themselves and show off their talents. They want to be together with more people, they want to be accepted by the society and they want their talents to be discovered. That is why we need more sponsors, donors and especially more customers to increase the number of the cafes like Down Café,” Singen says.

This Turkish Cafe Only Employ Workers With Down SyndromeWe have volunteer mothers helping us in the kitchen by cooking and washing dishes while Sisli Municipality pays our bills.”

Down Café is a joint project  Istanbul Foundation for Mentally Disordered People and Sisli municipality, sponsored by Alternative Life Association. 


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