A new Boutique Hotel, a part of Albergo Etico, has inaugurated in Bethlehem, inside the suggestive Morcus Nassar Palace, in the old city, just a five-minute walk from the Church of the Nativity. The three-storey palace, about 520 square meters, is characterized by designs that decorate the ceiling in a unique way, making it one of the most important places in the artistic heritage of Bethlehem. In support of the initiative, financial support for the complete renovation of the property by FAI – Fondation Assistance Internationale, a humanitarian foundation, of public utility, established in 2002 and whose founding values originate from the purposes set out recall the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A bit of history
The Morcus Nassar Palace was built between 1899 and 1910 as a residence for the Nassar family. Over the years the building was then sold, passing from owner to owner, until the Arche Bethlehem bought it in 2013 for the Ma’an lil-Hayat project, a project that brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities who share life through various activities. The palace was renovated in 2014 under the supervision of RIWAQ and the Center for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage CCHP. It was then refurbished again in 2021, under the supervision of CCHP, to be used as a Boutique Hotel.
The Ma’an lil-Hayat Boutique Hotel in Bethlehem is the first hotel of its kind to be operated by people with and without intellectual disabilities. The goal is to provide a high quality experience for local and international guests. The hotel aims to bring people with disabilities to professional and personal autonomy. At the same time, however, it is structured to provide professional services to international and local guests.
The contribution of Albergo Etico
The Albergo Etico contributed to the opening of the Bethlehem Boutique Hotel by exporting its training model and its values as a social enterprise committed to offering job placement opportunities and enhancing the talent of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Albergo Etico is a social enterprise, born in Asti in 2006, which offers paths of independence, professional and life autonomy, to people with disabilities, in the tourism and agri-food sector. The association enhances, through an innovative business model, the potential and talents of individuals, creating the conditions for embarking on a path of personal growth and promoting the integration of people with disabilities within society.
In addition to Asti and Cesenatico, Albergo Etico is already present in Rome, Valle d’Aosta, Albania and the Blue Mountains (Australia). Today 65% of the boys and girls with disabilities of Albergo Etico are inserted into the world of work.
The words of Luigi Bisceglia, Yunus Social Business Center Coordinator, Bethlehem University:
«Bethlehem University and the Yunus Center are proud to have supported the creation of a very important social business in Bethlehem. The Boutiquel Hotel is a concrete and effective way to support activities in favor of people with mental disabilities in the area. After Covid we had to start again with a beautiful dream to realize and the Boutique Hotel is one to all intents and purposes».
The words of Alex Toselli, president of Albergo Etico
«We are particularly happy and proud of this new opening. On the one hand because, despite the complexity of recent years, we are continuing to make new openings, demonstrating the goodness of the project. On the other hand, because this is a difficult territory, in which I hope our message can be strongly felt: barriers must be shattered, we must all move forward together, perhaps slowing down, but all together. Words such as possibility, opportunity, dignity must be placed at the centre. As well as the word hospitality, because the hotel is the home par excellence for all of us, where we learn to welcome others without distinction. The war that is being fought provides us with a further starting point on the ever more pressing need to build networks between people, families, institutions, citizens, territories, so that projects such as that of Albergo Etico are the driving force for a necessary urban (re)generation and culture at all levels of society».
“We need to be clear: The quality of a civilization can be measured by the respect it has for its weakest members. There is no other criterion. ”
Jérome Lejeune, pioneer in Trisomy 21
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