What are other countries doing to make society more inclusive?
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
In Ecuador, the Vice President is starting a revolution.
Lenin Moreno is Ecuador’s Vice President and an inspiring leader. He’s been advocating for the Ecuador without barriers cause for 6 years. His phrase “disability is not inability” captures the essence of his efforts for a more inclusive society. He was born in 1953 in a small village in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In 1998, he was victim of an assault and received a shot that damaged his spinal cord. That day he lost mobility of his legs and shortly after he had to learn how to use a wheelchair to get around.
At the beginning of his recovery he was confined to a bed. He was feeling a lot of pain but discovered that humor was an excellent analgesic. He started an organization inspired on the power of laughter and became a motivational speaker. In 2006, he was elected Vice President of Ecuador. Right away he started working on social programs with a special focus on inclusion of persons with disability.
He realized that in order to help people with disabilities he needed to know more about their current state and needs. He devised a program called Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission. It was the first time in the history of Ecuador that the government launched a research to study and register all people with disability nationwide.
Hundreds of doctors, geneticists, psychologist and public health specialists accompanied by soldiers and community guides travelled to the most remote and hidden villages of Ecuador. The goal of their visits was to register and provide medical care to a population that has been marginalized for years. This information helped the government develop state policies that covered multiple areas such as health, education and social welfare.
The mission turned out to be a crusade. The volunteers found critical cases of people with severe mental or physical disability that were living in an environment of poverty and abandonment. There was more work to be done and the Ecuadorian government responded immediately. That is how the Joaquín Gallegos Lara Mission was born.
This second stage of the inclusion program is devoted to registering and arranging a wage for the family caregiver or person who cares for the individual with severe disability. The Joaquín Gallegos Lara Mission now benefits 14 479 people who receive a monthly aid of $240 USD. The program also provides medicines, training in areas such as health, hygiene, rehabilitation, nutrition, self-esteem and rights and further undertakes to a permanent follow-up of the beneficiaries.
In 2012, Lenin Moreno was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for all his work. His efforts towards an inclusive society have been recognized worldwide.
After reading this inspiring story we hope you’ll share our motivation to emulate this inspiring Vice President across our own organizations.