By Leah Simmons, Lead Independent Living Services Coordinator
Hola! I’m Leah Simmons, one of IndependenceFirst’s lead independent living service coordinators, and in September I visited La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina! I went there to work with people with disabilities through the Empower Partnerships program of Mobility International USA (MIUSA). I was asked to blog all about it this week and I’m honored to share!
The Empower Partnerships program is a prestigious two-way international exchange program for organizations working on or interested in working on disability-related issues and inclusion as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This program aims to create sustainable organizational partnerships between organizations in the U.S. and overseas, expanding the capacity of each organization to promote disability inclusive communities and to advance disability rights.
IndependenceFirst decided to apply for this year’s exchange program. We had to compete with many other organizations who wanted to participate and IndependenceFirst was chosen to work with two Argentinean organizations.
“IndependenceFirst was selected to participate in the Empower Partnerships program because of its strength and experience in systems change advocacy, policy and independent living skills training,” MIUSA told me when I asked why we were selected to participate.
My center decided to send me (yes, deaf me!) to Argentina to work with people with disabilities and I was ecstatic! The MIUSA program covered all my travel expenses, so IndependenceFirst was able to participate in this program at no cost to our organization.
I was in Argentina August 31st to September 8th. The picture included here is the group that welcomed my arrival at the international airport in Buenos Aires. They were so warm and welcoming! I enjoyed their company very much. More pictures to come.
A month after my trip, I still feel blessed that I was able to go, and I think constantly about the people I met. More stories to come.
The second half of the exchange, in which two women from Argentina will be here to learn more about IndependenceFirst hands on, will take place October 19th to October 29th. I will tell you more about that later this week.
For more information on the Empower Partnership program, go to this website: http://www.miusa.org/exchange/currentprogs/empower/index_html.
Participation in this program was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and managed by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). Neither of these organizations is responsible for the views expressed herein.