"A Cheerful Heart Does like a medicine" (Prov. 17:22)
Photo of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III with the sisters and a child from the cheerful heart centre in an exhibition at the Cathedral during the occasion of the anniversary of His Holiness.
Mental disability is a state of mind that needs to be dealt with through education, socialization and rehabilitation. Mentally disabled persons are not inferior to normal for persons, but they are persons with special needs. They need to live in an atmosphere in which they enjoy safety and security. They need to live and to be loved by their parents, by their brothers and sisters and by their colleagues. They need to be treated kindly and be given much attention by their teachers.
In 1993, Bishop Botros, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, established the Cheerful Heart Centre for Mentally Disabled persons (CHC). CHC welcomes persons with special needs, males and females. Mentally Disabled persons need to be treated as persons created by God , in God's image, after the likeness of God (Gen 1:26). They have the right to be loved, to be treated kindly, and looked at with a Cheerful Heart and that will be like a medicine to them. CHC trains its members so that they would become productive members in their family, Church, and society. It rehabilitates them so that they would involve in public life. It trains them on appropriate social conduct. It trains them on simple reading and writing. It trains them on vocational training so that they would gain some basic income.
CHC also offers psychological & spiritual guidance to the families of disabled persons concerning the appropriate ways in dealing with their mentally disabled.
In 2000-2001, CHC accepted 75 persons with light and moderate mentally disability, Christians and non Christians, of all ages.
CHC occupies about 5 acres on the Charity Isle Patmos (CIP) situated at the Km 32 on Cairo-Suez road. The new building of the CHC at the CIP is a two floor building containing 26 rooms on each floor (classes, workshops, gymnasium, a clinic, library and computer hall, kitchen, refectory, audio library and studio, church, and playgrounds). It will accommodate up to 200 mentally disabled persons of whom 60 will live in the dormitories of the CHC. CHC is currently served by 21 teachers.
His Grace Bishop Botros with a child from CHC.