Photo: Facebook, Down Syndrome Kosova

Raising awareness about Down syndrome in Kosovo, one cup at a time

A new cafe opened in coordination with advocacy group Down Syndrome Kosova aims to support and integrate Kosovo's Down syndrome community.

Prishtina is often lauded as having “the best macchiato in the world” and cafes are ubiquitous and often more or less similar. But at a new socially inclusive coffeeshop, Kafeteria X 21, a cup of joe comes with a dose of advocacy.

The cafe, which opened Tuesday, is staffed by Kosovars with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21.

Bedri Hajdini, 40, an employee who received professional training before coming to work at the cafe, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity he has been given to participate in a professional environment.

“I am very happy to be able to provide a great service to my customers, and I look forward to their arrival,” Hajdini said.

Around 900 individuals with Down syndrome live in Kosovo, and often face discrimination and social exclusion. Sebahate Hajdini Beqiri, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Kosova, a initiator in the cafe, emphasised the need for Kosovo to integrate citizens with Down syndrome and provide opportunities for participation in public life.

“There is a tendency for the general public to focus on issues momentarily, rather than focusing on long-term solutions, and our aim is to educate future generations not to behave this way,” said Beqiri. DSK has been drafting a new bill to secure equal rights for those with Down syndrome since September last year, which they intend to present to parliament in April.  

Beqiri emphasized the need for institutions to uphold the rights of the disabled and to secure the community from discrimination, particularly in the workforce.

Ten of the cafe’s 18 staff members have Down syndrome. Though the organisation cannot afford to pay a fixed rate to the employees, they hope this will soon change, “if the general public chooses to fully support the cafe,” noted Beqiri.

Kafeteria X 21 is located at Kosta Novakovic 9/10 and is open between 8:00 am and 18:00pm.

23/03/2017 - 16:10

23 March 2017 - 16:10