A meeting with Ms Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission on Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship was held today at the Central Military Club. The meeting was announced as open to all citizens and promised to bring a ray of hope in the very complicated political situation in Bulgaria in recent days.
Of course, we, a group of people with disabilities – Kapka Panayotova, Diliana Deneva, Vanya Pandieva, Mariana Harizanova, Borislav Ivanov, Zivodar Zhishev and Nina Zhisheva, decided that the invitation was valid for us too and at the appointed hour, me, Kapka and Diliana, as most impatient, we stood before the Military Club. Even at the entrance it turned out that the inaccessibility was obvious – we were met by several black marble steps which brought us back to reality.Read More
A WONDERFUL MOVIE! A WONDERFUL SMILE! BREAKING ACHIEVEMENTS ABOUT THE INDEPENDENT LIVING OF THE BEAUTIFUL YOUNG ELEANOR!
The Down Syndrome… is caused by genetic damage, the presence of 3 chromosomes 21 instead of 2. This ridiculous anomaly, a mistake in the arithmetic of nature, is the reason in our otherwise ordered, in our minds, world to appear strange babies with Down Syndrome. Usually, they are branded as low-intelligent, ugly, lifeless, people who definitely need to be looked after… always. But this short film (yes, the movie is actually about thirty minutes long, but its value, wisdom and the warmth that comes from it leave us with a hint of regret at the end) shows us something else. When there is a complex set of tools to make up the deficit caused by a genetic mistake, when there is someone to believe in you, when you believe in yourself, things take on a different nuance. And if an adequate government policy emerges that supports you and gives you the chances, then the world is radically changed by a small, creepy person, with Mongoloid eyes and a big belly, the person becomes a worthy person to whom even the mirror tells “You’re soooo cool, enchantress! The world is yours as well!”
Lately, we have all felt the powerful vibrations that have been circulating around us since Election 2013. Active and aggressive agitation is underway, parties are fighting for our voice and our confidence. But! Yes, history is Bulgarian and as in every Bulgarian history, at least one BUT immediately appears. And now – but to what extent are elections accessible to people with disabilities and to what extent are they guaranteed their right and ability to vote.
In response to this question, we at the Independent Living Center, have endeavored to produce several documents that will be useful to both people with disabilities and all administrative bodies involved in drafting election rules and working on organizing and holding the 2013 elections themselves.
We are on the verge of an extremely intense and important election campaign. Many parties will try to entice us, to win our trust. Each of them will stand before us with their powdered and perfumed program, they will promise us, they will tell us beautiful stories WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE MATTER AND THE PROBLEMS – we will remain unhappy disabled for them if we do not enlighten them.
That is why this year we decided to organize the things on which the quality of our living depends and to hold on to them firmly. We have drawn up a document that we will send to parties that have the ambition to take power and responsibility for our future four years.
The Center for Independent Living invited all major political forces to a meeting to present the expectations of disabled citizens from the participants in the 2013 parliamentary elections.
The leaders of the BULGARIA OF THE CITIZENS movement responded first to our invitation. Mrs. Meglena Kuneva came to the CIL office at the meeting on April 10, Ludmila Elkova – Deputy chairperson of the party and Mr. Georgi Kiryakov, who is responsible for BC’s social policy.
At the beginning of the meeting, Kapa Panayotova emphasized the need for new disability policies, given the alarming situation in our country, where, against the background of general impoverishment, the problems of people with disabilities appear to be not important enough for the political class. Eurostat’s worrying statistics make it clear that people with disabilities in Bulgaria are at the forefront of EU unemployment, lack of education and segregation. Kapa Panayotova stressed that the mechanisms by which money is given in Bulgaria for the disabled people not only do not help their social inclusion, but even deepen their isolation.
Meglena Kuneva and the Movement team emphasized that they came to hear the views of people with disabilities about social policies in Bulgaria and their ideas for change.
A common understanding emerged on the following several key issues:
The need for a completely new disability law, which guarantees a transition from the medical to the social model of disability, as well as the transition from social benefits to a deficit compensation policy;
To open broadly the dialogue in society about the people with disabilities and to move out of the narrow and vicious circle of coordination only with nationally represented NGOs, which through the state subsidy for their activity are really connected with the government and do not consult, but agree with it;
Change the model of the non-governmental sector involvement in the social policies. Instead of quantifying the principle of national representation / with the whole devaluation of this concept / – to rely on the qualitative one. To provide social services on a project basis, guaranteeing transparency in accountability and the competitiveness and effectiveness of ideas.
Accessibility is a huge problem in the overall environment and this understanding has been underlined by both parties.
Work on controlling the construction and infrastructure and achieving full rather than “partial” accessibility. The team of Bulgaria of the citizens received written proposals from CIL which they promised to read carefully and consider as an expression of quality expertise from proven specialists in the field of disability, such as the people at the Center for Independent Living.
CIVIL COALITION TO OBSERVE ELECTION PROCESS LAUNCHES OBSERVATION OF UPCOMING ELECTIONS ON 4th OF APRIL, 2013
INITIATORS OF THE CIVIL COALITION FOR ELECTION PROCESS OBSERVATION: Transparency International, Bulgarian Dimitar Panitza School of Politics, European Institute, European Information Center, Institute for Social Integration, Center for Liberal Strategies for independent living, offer to the political parties registered for participation in the parliamentary elections a PUBLIC CONTRACT for FREE, FAIR AND DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN BULGARIA. On April 4, 2013, at 11.00 at the Sheraton Hotel, a Public Contract will be concluded for holding free, fair and democratic elections in Bulgaria. The document was developed by 8 non-governmental organizations that will conduct independent civic monitoring of the upcoming elections.
The purpose of the treaty is to engage the political parties in conducting a transparent election campaign in accordance with the publicity and accountability standards. The aim is to prevent the abuse of citizens’ suffrage and to optimize the organization of the election process.
The document also provides for a commitment for non-governmental organizations to conduct civic surveillance based on the principles of independence, political impartiality and constructive dialogue with all participants in the election process, as well as to provide information to the public on the results of the monitoring.
The Center for Independent Living fully supports this initiative and will support the signing of the Public Contract on 04.04.2013.
An open letter sent to the President – Mr. Rosen Plevneliev – by people with disabilities was brought to the Presidency today. It is related to possible appointments to the office of people associated with the previous status quo who could not make the change sought today. We support Mr Plevneliev in his struggle and the daunting task now to master the changes in the country and to give them a unified direction – a new social contract and mutual trust between citizens and the governing. That is why members of the new, albeit temporary, government and advisory body should not be allowed to come from governmental national representative organizations which are directly linked to the government in the last few years and have led to the extremely difficult situation of social exclusion for people with disabilities .
The full text of the letter can be read here.
WHY THE SHELTER HOMES ARE NEITHER “OF FAMILY TYPE” NOR “COMMUNITY SERVICES”, BUT A NEW KIND OF INSTITUTION
After the emotional story of the young people from the sheltered home in Lukovit about the unforgettable day in Sofia, I want to share my thoughts. They are one of the restless who always come out with anxiety and questions. Why, for instance, did it happen that only half of those who came to the long-planned and thoughtful excursion came to Sofia? And is it so difficult to find transportation for everyone?
I do not believe in apologies such as “no opportunity”, “this is the situation”, “it is not happening”. Moreover, when this type of behavioral model, in turn, creates a way of thinking and perceiving the world as a hostile place where people like Petya, Eli, Maria and Toshko find it difficult to fit.Read More
Finally, the government authorized Minister Donchev to generate, together with the civil sector, a strategy for the development of this sector and a mechanism for financing NGOs in Bulgaria. More information can be found here.
Although unaffected by the documents produced, the “God-anointed” (organizations with national representation status and eligible for legal subsidy) have decided to boycott the process through an opinion that can only cast doubt on the quality and competence of their “think tank”. To dispel these doubts, we expect them to respond to our following statement:
Ladies and Gentlemen from nationally represented organizations of and for people with disabilities,
In connection with the opinion submitted by you to the Minister of Management of EU Funds, Tomislav Donchev, on “Projects of a Strategy for Supporting the Development of Civic Organizations in Bulgaria for the Period 2012-2015” and “A Vision for Creating a Civil Financing Mechanism sector “, submitted for public consultation, we invite you to submit the following documents to the public, including people with disabilities in Bulgaria, by 20.07.2012 (generously giving you three weeks!):
- A decision of a state body to determine the status of “third social partner” of nationally represented organizations of and for persons with disabilities. The provision of Art. 5, para. 2 assigns to the nationally represented organizations of and for persons with disabilities an advisory role, but not the status of social partner within the meaning of the Definition of the term social partners and the meaning mentioned in the Labor Code, Chapter One – General, Tripartite Cooperation, Art. 3, para. (1);
- List of the other 44 regulations in which you state that this statute is regulated.
Finally, we would like to make it clear to the general public that the principle of financing any NGO cannot be comparable to that of political parties. For reference: POLITICAL PARTIES LAW, Chapter Three, PROPERTY, FINANCING AND EXPENDITURE, Art. 25, para. (1); Art. 26.
You can read the opinion here:
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