„I experienced a lot of abuse in institutions. I wanted to change this situation for others.“
#30yearsofInclusion – Inclusion Europe turns 30 in 2018!
To mark this year, we will be highlighting and celebrating inclusion in Europe in its various forms and practices – and the people behind.
Every month we will present one person who has brought the Inclusion movement forward in Europe.
Our Inclusion Heroine in January is Elisabeta Moldovan.
Having grown up in different institutions in Romania, Elisabeta Moldovan went on to live independently in 2012 and became involved in the Romanian inclusion movement in the same year, working at Inclusion Europe’s member Ceva de Spus. In 2013, Elisabeta joined EPSA, the European Platform of Self-Advocates. Finally, in 2017, a graphic novel about her story was published in Romanian and English: „Becoming Eli„.
We asked Elisabeta about her experiences in institutions and as a self-advocate, and about her wishes for the future of the inclusion movement.
Why did you become a self-advocate?
I became a self-advocate because I wanted to know my rights as a person with disabilities. In the institutions I lived in, I experienced a lot of abuse. I wanted to change this situation for others. As a self-advocate, I also wanted to develop myself as a person.
What was the situation for people with intellectual disabilities in Romania when you started your advocacy work? What are the things that have improved and which problems still persist?
Persons with intellectual disabilities are among the most discriminated groups in Romania. Lately, they have learned more about their rights thanks to trainings, conferences and support from the inclusion and self-advocacy movement. But they still face discrimination – as a general negative attitude, but also from institutions. Discrimination is an everyday experience for all people with disabilities in Romania.
What have you learned and achieved when working at EPSA?
I have learned a lot at EPSA: for example, to better communicate with others and to speak in public. I was also trained on different topics, such as violence against women with disabilities, and I became more aware of how discrimination can look like.
„Becoming Eli“, a book about your story has just been published. Who came up with the idea of writing the graphic novel?
The people around me encouraged me to make my story public, and a friend of mine did the graphic novel. It was difficult for me to share what I experienced. But I wanted to raise awareness on life in institutions and on how to make a change. I hope that in future parents will not abandon their children anymore and that the persons who still live in institutions will have a chance for a better life.
How long did it take you to tell your story?
It took two years to write the final version. My friend and I met monthly at a coffee in town and talked. He always showed me what he had worked upon and I gave him feedback. We worked on one story at a time, and then we put them all together.
How was it like holding the book in your hands for the first time?
I was very happy to see it and felt proud!
What changes would you like to see implemented for people with intellectual disabilities in Romania and in Europe?
First of all, I would like to see that all persons with intellectual disabilities can move out of institutions and live an independent life in the community. Accessibility and the chance for a quality life is a right for everyone, and it should become a reality! All persons with disabilities should know their rights and be empowered to fight for them.
Flavours of European inclusion: celebrating 30 years of learning, working and achieving together
At Inclusion International’s World Congress, Inclusion Europe will celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special event.
Inclusion Europe members will present not only their country’s food, culture and customs, but also their inclusion achievements during the last 30 years at tables spread across the room.
Participants are invited to discover stories, pictures and objects illustrating how the inclusion movement has moved forward during the last three decades, while tasting delicious nacional specialties and making new connections.
They will learn about successful practices of European collaboration for inclusion and about partnerships national members have formed with companies, government agencies and funders.
We will end the anniversary event in style: with a toast and a little surprise.
Afterwards, participants can join the World Congress party.