33-year-old Dionysis-Nectarios Daloukas’ life changed at the age of 18 when a stroke led to him having an invalidity rate of 80%. As a result, he had to learn to cope with his heart problems and living with a machine connected to his heart. Beyond that he had to deal with problems faced by People with Disabilities (AMEA) in Greece such as difficulties in getting a job. Rather than give up, he decided to create La Petite Cantine, an outdoor restaurant run exclusively by people with special needs in the heart of Volos, the coastal port of Thessaly, where he lives.
His main aim in creating this is good food under the stars, but on another level he hopes to brush aside stereotypes and create a special meeting place where all people regardless of their disability can feel comfortable. “The idea is to develop a serious understanding of disabled people and support them too, through employment,” he says.
“Our carefully developed plan is to start a business combining and establishing regular customers in our city who will enjoy quality food with fresh local products and offer work to people with special needs who face a myriad of barriers,” he says. “Like the general population, each person with a disability is an individual. They all have their own hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes. Disabled people who can work and who want to work face many obstacles so we want to support their need to find employment.”
He hopes that his outdoor restaurant, due to open its doors in May will help build bridges for his city’s disabled people, a group within which he belongs.