It was a pleasure for EDF to organise and host the second visit of local Indian organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in Brussels, Belgium. The Indian delegation, comprised of 6 members, visited the EU capital from the 1st to the 4th of June (coinciding with our Annual General Assembly) as part of the project “Building Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Empowering Organisations of Persons with Disabilities”. This is a 3-year project funded by the EU and implemented by Sightsavers India and in collaboration with EDF.
On this occasion, we had the pleasure to meet:
- Puran Mal Sharma, from the Indian DPO, “All People’s Network Organisation (APNO)”
- Santosh Kumar Moharana, from the Indian DPO, “Samarth, Gajapati”
- Neeta Nagesh, from the Indian DPO, “Viklang Ekta Sewa Samiti”
- Anuradha Pareek, from the Indian DPO “Sajag Divyang Sewa Samithi”
- Jayashree Kumar, State Programme Manager from Sightsavers India
- Namrata Mehta, Programme Manager, EU projects from Sightsavers India
The six delegates, most of them from rural areas of India, had a busy weekend planned for them. They attended the European Disability Forum’s (EDF) Annual General Assembly meeting, which included a Conference on Smart Travel-Partnership and technology making European travel more accessible and met many EDF members. As part of the point of the agenda on ‘International Cooperation’, they had the opportunity to give a presentation on the SDGs project and share the work undertaken so far, and the future plans. Each delegate presented themselves and their work briefly. Later in the weekend, the Indian team presented Sightsavers experiences of Advancing rights of women with disabilities in India during the seminar on “The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)” , chaired by EDF Vice President and member of the CEDAW Committee, Ana Pelaez. Furthermore, it was very interesting to hear about the Indian laws and policies protecting women with disabilities and the work of Sightsavers in advancing capacity building of DPO members, specially women members through projects and programmes, such as self-defense courses, employment schemes, and workshops on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The six delegates also had the opportunity to exchange and understand better the work of EDF and other European and international disability organisations by meeting the Association for Research and Training on Integration in Europe (ARFIE), the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and its EU task group, as well as the chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), Ana Lucia Arellano. Moreover, the team also met with Autism Europe as well as the representatives of the unit on SDGs in DG Development and Cooperation (DEVCO), at the European Commission. These meetings resulted in an exchange of good practices, information and successes.
Its important to say that most of the delegates, who live in rural areas of Indian, visited Belgium (and even Europe) for the first time. We thank the indian delegation for their visit and our members and other organisations for meeting them. It was a pleasure to experience such an enriching mutual learning and we hope to host a third visit next year!