Solutions and Hope in the Shadow of War in Nagorno Karabakh

18 June 2021

HART partner, Vardan Tadevosyan, and his staff at the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide the best possible care for their disabled patients and their families. Now, reeling from the 44-day war that erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September 2020, the Centre has not only increased the number of patients it supports but gone above and beyond to celebrate the centre’s staff who have continued to give their all to their patients in the face of significant hardship.

As the citizens of Nagorno Karabakh work to rebuild their lives following the war, the centre has expanded its work to accommodate injured soldiers. As a result, Vardan expects the number of patients treated each year at the Centre to double to more than 2,000. Despite the dispersal of staff across Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia following the conflict, existing patients and soldiers recently injured in the war are now receiving physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, speech therapy and psychology treatment at the Centre. Disability rehabilitation specialists from around the world have travelled to the Centre in Stepanakert to offer their knowledge and experience to Vardan’s staff, often staying for weeks at a time to volunteer. Equipment has been donated to the Centre and doctors in regional hospitals are being trained in disability rehabilitation so that more people are able to benefit from the Centre’s expertise.

Vardan and his staff celebrate injured soldier Harout’s 25th birthday at the Centre.

Following HART’s recent fundraising appeal to support the Centre, the Centre’s vehicles (which had broken down from constant use as ambulances during the war) have been repaired. As a result, Vardan

has been able to increase the number of home visits to patients who are unable to travel to the Centre. Since 2000, weekly home visits have mostly benefitted elderly patients and those with severe physical disabilities. The visits play a crucial role in allowing patients’ families to witness the rehabilitation therapies that their family members need in order to replicate them once the Rehab Centre staff have left. The recent increase in such visits (despite a reduction in staff and an increase in patients) is a testament to Vardan and each of his staff’s commitment to their work.

Despite a turbulent 2020, the Centre remains a deeply happy place. Birthdays are celebrated with a party, cake and games and international celebrations such as World Autism Day and Women’s Day are met with a BBQ where patients and staff come together outside of their treatments to share fun and laughter. Patients feel valued and prioritised as the Centre’s compassion and determination goes from

strength to strength. As 32-year-old military officer and Centre patient, Narek Alaverdyan, said in February, “I am grateful to the Centre’s management and staff, who, despite many difficulties, are doing such an important and responsible job in helping people with disabilities to recover and return to an independent life.”

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