Caroline Cox, a Baroness in the House of Lords, in the British Parliament, is one of the kindest, most caring and compassionate women I have ever met. She has such a heart for the most vulnerable sections of society. She has truly been a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and has championed human rights around the world – she is a woman of faith and that has been the guiding light, in whatever she has done. There are those who agree to disagree with her, but she carries on regardless, ‘speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.’
Decades ago, Caroline Cox replied one of my letters when I was campaigning on behalf of parents, care givers and people with autism – you could sense the compassion in her. Caroline Cox is no fake. She is the real deal. In 2015 Biola University in the United States of America invited a Baroness for the first time, to address 225 graduates and 725 under graduates at their Spring Commencement ceremonies. On that occasion Biola University presented her with the Chuck Colson Award for Conviction and Courage. Recipients of the award are individuals who demonstrate commitment to the unshakeable truths of a biblical worldview, as well as a willingness to act on biblical convictions, however risky or challenging it may be.
An Armenian organisation in the United States, awarded her with the ANCA-WR ‘Advocate for Justice’ award in 2018. She has always been a powerful voice for the voiceless. She is the founder and CEO of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which combines aid with advocacy, working for people suffering from oppression, exploitation and persecution.
In 2018 Caroline Cox asked me if I would like to accompany her and a team from HART to visit the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Artsakh, Armenia to celebrate 20 years of this Centre. I readily agreed because my gut feeling was that I would see something amazing here. Wherever we travelled in Armenia, people would come up to Caroline Cox and thank her for standing by them, in their hour of need. I will never forget, as we were walking in Stepanakert, this really frail old lady crossing the road, saw Caroline and came up to her and spoke to her with gratitude in her eyes.
When we reached the Centre I witnessed the work of the staff and therapists – they were giving love, care, devotion, dedication, commitment. The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre is headed by a gentleman called Vardan who is the embodiment of Compassionate Leadership. He is totally driven by compassion and is a powerful voice for the vulnerable in Armenia. Vardan is deeply passionate about helping and supporting the disabled in Armenia. It was wonderful to see love in action.
I was so moved to meet with the children with autism. One little boy jumped into my arms and hugged me. It touched my heart. This beautiful place is a ‘centre of excellence, ‘ in every sense. I saw people who had suffered strokes and the therapists were teaching them to walk and talk again. I saw children with autism being taught skills which will help them to live independently, they were teaching them communication skills and so many other skills too. I walked into one room and saw very young children with autism who were being taught to prepare vegetables for their lunch at the Centre. As I left the room, a little boy with autism shouted out ‘Papa.’ It shook my heart.
Some of the people who came to this centre were from the poorest of the poor, travelling miles away from villages in Armenia, in order for the staff and therapists to help their loved ones. They are able to stay for a few weeks at the Centre and the staff teach the parents and caregivers much needed skills and strategies to help their children when they return home.
Training is given to people who need it. When I was there I saw local school children visiting the Centre – it was a learning experience for them. The place is a hub of activity, you could feel a real buzz. Vardan should be congratulated for introducing innovation, educational strategies, in service in house training for his staff – he is an amazing visionary and so forward thinking with a positive outlook on life. Sir Winston Churchill once said: ‘Never, never, never give up.’ Vardan certainly never gives up. He sees the big picture and he has acted upon it. Partnership working is important to him and he has partnered with people all over the world.
Wherever you are in the world, please have a place in your heart for HART, help raise much needed funds for the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre. They do so much with very little. A mustard seed has grown into a great big tree. At the moment the charity is trying to raise funds to buy a used van for Vardan (The Van4Vardan campaign), so that they could transport the differently abled to summer camps.
Having visited this Centre (as a former autism campaigner), I can assure you that what is happening here is genuine, real, innovative, a place of compassion – really supporting the differently abled. Please contact the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre, visit them, volunteer, consider financially supporting the work for the most vulnerable sections of society. HART is spearheading this wonderful work, reaching out ‘to the least of these.’ The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre is a place of love and compassion. A diamond in the heart of Eastern Europe. A very precious place.
Please contact the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) in London, in the United Kingdom for further information. Their contact details are on the website – please access the link below:
Some pictures courtesy of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust