Activities carried out at the Center for Independent Living ‘Universal Progress’
From June 26 to July 5, “Asia TRY in Mongolia 2011” was organized by the Universal Progress Independent Living Center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The TRY is a campaining event for barrier-free train (station) facilities, which started in Hyogo, Japan, in 1986. In this event, a group of people on wheelchairs travel to a pre-determined destination for days, sleeping in the open air. They visit a numer of railway companies, train stations and governments, where they talk and negotiate (and occasionally argue!) with people who can be involved in the installation of wheelchair-friendly facilities into train stations and carriages. They also interact with people in the street on their way, spreading their messages and seeking support. They have walked across Japan, and this movemen is now spreading all over Asia.
This Mongolian TRY event was aimed at showing close solidarity among Asian fellows as well as starting to change the society in Mongolia. A total number of eighty people took part in this event. The Kokorozashi International, an organization promoting indepedent living of disabled people in Asia, also sent its members to it, including five people from Cambodia, Nepal and Pakistan, who were former trainees of the Duskin Asia-Pacific Leadership Training in Japan. There were over sixty participants from within Mongolia, including an individual with cerebral palsy who had never travelled alone and youngsters who determinedly came to Ulaanbaatar despite oppositions from their families.
The event kicked off wth the openinng ceremony in Sukhbaatar Square, Ulaanbaatar. The eighty participants were divided into three groups of (1) Darkhan and Erdenet, (2) Baganuur and Haranx, and (3) Ulaanbaatar. Each group appealed to the public and communicated with politicians, bereaucrats and representatives of local organizaions of/for disabled people. On the last day of the event, as many as ninty people gathered in the square to celebrate the achievements that each group had made. Everyone there appeared refreshed, radiant and confident, after successfully completing the ten-day activity.
In Mongolia, there is no care support system provided. Therefore, our independent living center has had many meetings with government many times. Consequently, as making a model case of care support, a project is going to begin that government offers care support subsidy to the nine persons with disabilities. However,the amount is so small that it will not cover all the costs of services required by those who need total assistant. Encountering this situation, we consider dividing the nine people into two groups- the six with slight disabilities and the three with severe disabilities. Moreover, using the surplus of the subsidy for the six for the other three, and also for the empowerment of the severely disabled. In this way, we hope to have ILP and peer counseling. We are trying to continue this for one year, achieve the satisfactory results, and by taking advantage of this, establish care support system in Mongolia.
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Apart from the main activities mentioned above, we often have activities toward citizens, meeting with members of the asseembly, and interact with other organizations of the disabled.
We encountered some problems alongside our activities, for example, that we don’t have non- handicapped staffs, and the funding problem. We’ll solve the problems one by one taking advices of our fellows in Japan and various countries, and unite and try to continue our activities for the future.
Chuluundavaa Undrakhbayar (Bayar)
Former Duskin Trainee (9th program, Mongolia)