WE ARE MATTER
Matter's story is a long one and it begins with the early childhood memories of our founder, who says: "I was four years old when one evening by the candles in our bedroom where our mother was reading a story in the dark to me and my elder sister when I realized that what I really wanted in life is to be like my sister. Then I decided that in order for that wish to come true - to have her long, curly hair, her ingenuity in games, and the extra attention she used to receive, I only needed to become 5 years old - like her. I dreamed about it so much that when my fifth birthday came, I went to our mother and told her that from now on we were truly equal.
However, my mother had an unexpected conversation with me that set the beginning of a different understanding of equality between us. I was explained that my sister will never be quite like the other children, that she was born with a mental developmental delay, cerebral palsy, and disabilities that would not allow her to ever outgrow her five-year developmental age, to learn to read, write or think, or to be independent in life. Although I knew how different and fragile my sister was, I was not prepared to protect her from the taunts of the kindergarten where we were enrolled together by exception so that I could take care of her and not separate. Later I would find out that these were our last months together, that there would not be a school that would accept both of us, and that she would attend from now on only specialized sessions, that I will finish my education, and she will still be attending specialized classes and rehabilitation."
35 years later, while working with people with disabilities, Eva has accumulated the ever-known understanding that specialized care and infrastructure for people with disabilities are lacking in the country and that the private sector could play a significant role in tapping into that problem. In the middle of 2022, she entered a Ronamia-based startup incubator in order to define a solution to the problem not yet quite done in the country employing the idea that individual support and socially responsible businesses in the country could together solve an enormous problem - the provision of services in its core but also the integration and celebration of the different individual. Because we are all one.
Imagine a world in which every person is celebrated in their own unique and dignified way. A world where everyone could become part of the Solution, not an observer of the Problem.
There are over 1 million people in Bulgaria living with disabilities according to the NGO sector, and only 10K of them receive tailored care and access to employment and society. 5 years ago, the parents of disabled children in Sofia started a national protest against the lack of much-needed care in the country. Matter Social Café and Bar was created as a result of hearing their voices and needs on one hand, and on the other - by observation of the entertainment scene in Sofia where soulful spaces are extremely rare though much sought.
Matter is a contemporary and out-of-the-box solution to the Problem that many families are facing today taking the form of a well-designed café on the ground level of the venue. It will host 3 therapy rooms on the lower level of the space making the access to them free of charge to people with disabilities who need them the most. It will be the first space with sound visualization and ‘autism’ spots making it enjoyable for people in the norm and the different needed ones to an equal extent.
Eva Stoyanova, manager
Ex-PR, specializing in the past years in virtual assistance to a variety of companies and nonprofit organizations. Believes that all individuals are equal in dignity and rights and that we, cumulatively, are one.
Kateto Kutyanova, goodwill consultant, kids with disabilities
Manager of a nonprofit organization that improves the lives of minorities, an energetic volunteer, and a mother of two boys, one of them - Andy, who is featured on our website and 'used' as a case study in the building of our space to be also comfortable for people with autism.
Snezhina Mihaylova, goodwill consultant, speech therapist
Snezhina Mihaylova is a special pedagogue and speech therapist, an enthusiast who has no time to sleep, and declares her last nap in 2014. She has been with us in the Matter project since the beginning, on the recommendation of parents of children with disabilities. She will consult the work of the 'Sound' Room, and she actually does not want our area to be called that, because "the speech therapist does a lot more than that" and we believe her, but the room will still be called that way in order to make the problems look tinier and affordable, which is our ultimate goal.
Teodora Bochukova, goodwill consultant, psychologist
Teodora Bochukova is a psychologist and family consultant who specializes in family therapy and has experience working with families with people with mental illness and special needs. Her interests are also in the field of equine-assisted psychotherapy and psychological support.
Vanya Todorova, goodwill consultant, occupational therapist
A Master of Special Education with a qualification in Occupational Therapy, Vanya has also recently completed training in Rhythmic Movements and plans to use this knowledge also in her work with children with disabilities and disorders at Matter. For the past five years, she has been successfully working with children with special needs through horse therapy near Sofia. Her interest in occupational therapy stems from the fact that it is actually a very good and natural extension of equine therapy. Oh, those horses!
Nevena Staeva, goodwill consultant, products
Into the project from its very beginning, a cousin of a person with cerebral palsy, a volunteer, and an esthete, who conceptually and decisively supports our affairs from beginning to end.
Alexandra Dimitrova-Nenova, creative goodwill consultant
We introduced ourselves to the public for the first time in December 2022 at a Christmas bazaar with a cause, and Alex was the only one who was able to take the time to stand at our booth, lend a shoulder at a critical moment, and talk about the project and sell catering and craft beer for the cause. Then exactly we pinpointed to continue working together because of her incredible talent for easygoing communication and sharing, consulting not only on our texts but also on partnerships and various other important details. By the way, Alex is a PR, and she studied together with Eva at the Faculty of Journalism, but we don't need to talk about that, since it was quite a long ago. Back in the present, we'll say that she's the mother of baby Yasna and has a background in environmental projects, and we won't immediately admit that we still don't have a waste reduction policy at the future Matter establishment, but we'll leave this problem to her to suggest how to transport supplies on skateboards and convert empty glass bottles into chandeliers or whatever she thinks is a tolerable, environmentally friendly activity to reduce the harm of the neverending human mirth.