Annual Meeting of the Center for Independent Living and friends including an analysis of the passing 2011 and a brain storm for more human and independent 2012


“We are playing a very complicated chess game with some very ordinary people” – Peter Kichashki

Hardly, someone has ever gathered so many disabled people in one place in Bulgaria. On December 16, many people with special needs gathered in Shipka Hotel to analyze what has done during the current year and to collect fresh ideas and power for changing the status quo in 2012. Mitko Nikolov and Kapka Panayotova of the CIL recalled, along with the main activists in the association, the highlights of the activity over the last 12 months:

Analysis of the work of NCIPD / National Council for Integration of People with Disabilities / under the Council of Ministers, prepared by the Institute for Modern Policy and the Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law. The unconditional position was that the council was not a corrective, but a creature of power. It dutifully supports government policy, against which it absorbs public funds, and subsidies, which no one monitors and controls.

The Limping System campaign was launched – as a clear diagnosis of social policies for people with disabilities in Bulgaria. As a result, some of the governors received as a gift a cane for “limping” actions and decisions. It appears that the campaign will continue to seek transparency and logic in the policies of the governing bodies throughout the coming 2012;

We protested against changes to the Independent Living Assistant’s Regulation, which made disabled people hostage of a vague transformation from points to hours; lack of objectivity and transparency, and made them unable to plan for a dignified and independent life in the future. The protest became memorable for several of the protesters who tied themselves in chains outside the City Hall on July 28th;

–  Protests against the unaccessibility – we started with a march in front of the Sofia Municipality on May 5th , continued with a press conference on school’s accessibility before the beginning of school’s year, and reached the culmination with the “Dispute on Wheel” – mayoral candidates stumbled on their attempt to cross the top center of Sofia оn wheelchairs;

We counted the really accessible schools and told the truth to the citizens of Sofia – there are 5 schools, not 65, as the mayor claims. On the Day of the National Revival Leaders (Nov 1st), we made an open lesson about inclusive education and the right of children with disabilities to study in accessible schools  – in a human and stimulating environment;

We have approached the Ombudsman of Bulgaria Konstantin Penchev for the unconstitutional favoritism of nationally represented NGOs. Thus, guaranteed that state’s funds are aquired in an absolutely opaque manner and without a competition. We lobbied parliamentarians at the National Assembly to ask the Prime Minister of Bulgaria for ratification of the UN Convention on Human Rights.

Between the emotional talks and memories of the past year, there was also the sadness of the loss of one great person and the inspirer for all of us – Koko, Kolyo Todorov from Burgas.

We also created a snapshot of 2011, summarizing the best that happened and the problems we saw:

Evelina Alexieva of IMP and Ralitsa Velichkova of BCNL mentioned the fact that we became friends and the group of civil organizations, looking in one direction, is increasing. Mariana Harizanova emphasized that our lives depend on us all – to be constant, united and to protest. Vanya Pandieva is proud to emphasize that the busy and risky intersection of Stamboliyski Blvd has a new elevator at the metro’s station there. “Politicians do not understand or simply do not want to understand,” said Veselka Kirova. I am not a human been on Saturday and Sunday, and during the week I am living only 4 hours a day”, she said about the possibility of using an assistant for an independent living. 17-year-old Alex from Dragoman urged us to teach society to accept the different ones. Krasy from Kyustendil added to the snapshot the Misha’s two golden Olympic medals and photos from the workshop in Bozhentsi, where all children – without and with disabilities, painted and had fun together.

In the second part of the event, we split into 4 groups for brain storm about our future in 2012 regarding the four major problems of people with disabilities: accessibility, transportation, education and personal assistance. You can see at the beginning of the new year the results of our work in a detailed action plan.

The most emotional part came when Peter Kichashki, Peter Dadanski, Vanya Pandieva, Mariana Harizanova, Lisa Bocheva, Vasilka Spasova and Vasil Abrashev were awarded with the “Active Fighter against the System” award of the week. They withstood a 40-degree heat on July 28th protesting in front of Sofia Municipality regarding changes in the Regulation of a personal assistant.

The final came unexpectedly, but normal for the situation, in which people with disabilities are placed in our country. Just when the fun started, 2 hours earlier, the drivers from the Lozana municipal company came and started to move people out. The reason – cars are only two, but people with wheelchairs – many! You are living by the will of the municipal firm, not by your own will.

This is the most important thing, which is ahead of us in 2012, to realize that human rights are one for all and to protect them. As people, society and country.

Merry Christmas to everyone 🙂

P.S.: We arranged the transportation with our own resources, so can partying longer. We will continue to fight for a living full and independent life!

The food was great because we made it!