Self-advocacy meeting – Understanding our Rights to Change our Reality

Regional self-advocacy meeting in Bogota, Colombia on November, 2010

The Self-advocacy meeting – Understanding our Rights to Change our Reality – took place in Bogotá, Colombia on 10 Nov, 2010. The meeting was part of a larger regional forum for families organised by Inclusion International in collaboration with Asdown Colombia, Inclusion Interamericana, and Fundación Saldarriaga. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss self-advocacy training and issues important to self advocates.

  • What does working together mean? Some ideas on how to do it?
  • Our families and what we need from them
  • Why do we talk about support? How do we see the support we need?
  • What’s the next step?
  • Who should work together?
  • How will we work together?

27 self-advocates from Bogotá, 4 from other cities in Colombia such as Cúcuta, Popayán, and 6 international self-advocates from México, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Panamá participated in the gathering. Unfortunately, one of the invited participants from Argentina was prevented from attending the meeting because the airline TACA he and his family were travelling with lost part of his wheelchair. The participants shared their personal experiences and discussed the exclusion they have been subjected to.  In the process they formulated an analysis of what their rights are within the frame of the CRPD, and how they can work to continue to support capacity building of self advocates in the region.

The session began with the presentation of the participants followed by a reflexion on how persons with disabilities are the protagonist of change. The day included discussions on the role of the family, what persons with disability need from them and what kind of supports is needed.  The meeting ended with workshops to develop a plan of action on how to increase communication between Latin-American self advocates and how to develop strategies to coordinate existing initiatives. They also discussed the possibility of creating self advocates groups in each country.

The day was framed by an atmosphere of participation with testimonies by all the self advocates. In particular there was a significant initiative by one of the self advocates who proposed to write a letter of complaint to the Airline for the humiliating experience suffered by the self-advocate from Argentina. The participants wrote a letter to the Airline enumerating all the rights that they had violated. It became an excellent example of how to put into practice many of the aspects discussed during the sessions.