VILTIS Lithuanian Welfare Society for Persons with Mental Disability

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VILTIS Lithuanian Welfare Society for Persons with Mental Disability

Lithuania
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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Dana Migaliova is ensuring that people with mental and physical disabilities living in the former Soviet states gain full citizenship rights and access to a better life. She is creating viable, sustainable partnerships among families, policy-makers, and citizen organizations with her ultimate goal to completely transform society's negative perceptions of disabled people.

About Project

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As the mother of an autistic son, Dana began her fight long ago to protect him from societal discrimination and indifference. Unable to imagine her child locked away in an institution, which has long been the socially-accepted treatment, Dana decided the only hope for disabled people to live a "normal life" was to set up legal and social systems to support them. Joined by other families, she began building coalitions and demanding that people with disabilities be treated as equal members of society with the right to education, medical treatment, occupational opportunities, and a regular home life.To realize her vision, Dana founded the Lithuanian Welfare Society for Persons with Mental Disability, or Viltis, which means "hope." She began by focusing on developing the legal and budgetary frameworks necessary to build up essential services—and also set about educating doctors, school teachers, parents, and policymakers about people with disabilities. Sustained, creative action is the central element of her work; having made great progress in Lithuania, Dana is not slowing down. She is now working intensively with partners in eight neighboring countries to find appropriate strategies for them drawing on lessons already learned in Lithuania.