Rehabilitation International – 93 Years Old and Counting

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By RI Secretary General Venus Ilagan

RI is 93 years old in 2015 and is proud of all the achievements it has achieved over nine decades, contributing significantly to creating a better world for persons with disabilities across the world. We are a network of people who have the experience, expertise, the will and drive to do more than just advocacy. We initiate action on the ground that produces concrete results to improve lives, particularly of people with disabilities living in poverty, who generally lack the access to services and other entitlements which non-disabled people often take for granted.

Rehabilitation is what we do best and what we are known for. It is an all-embracing concept and a time-tested strategy of enabling persons with disabilities to achieve their fullest potential; it is a tool for fulfilling the dream to live independently; it realizes rights. Rehabilitation has helped families address some of the most difficult challenges in their struggle to nurture members with disabilities.

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For us at RI, rehabilitation has been the common platform which has brought us all together. In our midst and among us are some of the best brains in the field. We have professionals and experts which include people with disabilities who have made their mark in this arena, pioneering efforts that have contributed greatly to realizing the decades-long dream of people with disabilities being seen, heard and counted as contributing members of their families and communities.

Rehabilitation provides a tool to meet the preconditions for the enjoyment of rights of persons with disabilities. It paves the way to accessing social protection for a largely marginalized group of people long denied of privileges enjoyed by everybody else and provides a means of operationalizing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – from rhetoric to practice.

The RI network is unique in the nature of its membership. We are multi-stakeholder, cross-disability and multi-disciplinary. The vastness of the expertise within RI is not easily found in other groups working in disability. We have what is needed to address the pre-conditions that can bring about the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities wherever in the world they live.

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Our members doing work in six regions of the world – Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Arab Region, Europe, North America and Latin America – are our most valuable assets. Our strength lies in the vastness and variety of expertise within the global family that is RI Global; one that facilitates the achievement of our shared goal of inclusion and universalizing access to services for all people with disabilities, and for them to be able to enjoy their rights on equal basis with others.

We will continue to pursue our goals, guided by our Strategic Plan 2013-2017, and will ensure that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be inclusive, will not leave anyone behind, and will make a meaningful difference in the lives of the poorest of persons with disabilities as we continue the journey to RI’s 100th anniversary in 2022.