To mark this year, we will be highlighting and celebrating inclusion in Europe in its various forms and practices – and the people behind it.
Every month we will present one person who has brought the Inclusion movement forward in Europe.
Our Inclusion Heroine in November is Barbora Mikulová from Czechia.
Barbora Mikulová lives in the north of Bohemia, in a town with 18.000 inhabitants. She spent virtually her entire life in homes and institutions. But finally, she moved to her own place. We asked her about how she managed to leave the institution and how her life has improved since then. Barbora has spoken about her experience at an event in the European Parliament on segregation in institutions and the EU’s role in stopping it.
How did you decide that you wanted to move out of the institution?
In 2012, a number of volunteers came to the institution where I was living back then. These were people who cared about me and supported me. They took me on trips and I visited other places thanks to them – I got to know the outside world! It didn’t take long before I knew that I wanted to leave the institution.
What were the steps you took?
First, the volunteers helped me get work outside of the institution. I started working in a laundry, doing the laundry and also ironing. But I was still living in the institution, and the caregivers and the head of the institution were trying to forbid me everything. That’s when I started to get help from a supported decision-making group. I received advice within the group. I did not yet have my full legal capacity, but I could take more decisions on my own.
What happened next?
I wanted to have my full legal capacity. Dana Kořínková, a lawyer from the organisation Quip in Prague, helped me go to court – and the judge returned my legal capacity. This was in 2015. One year later, the people supporting me found a flat for me, and I finally moved out. In between, I have found another job as well: I’m now doing the cleaning in a nursery, which is great because I love children.
How is your life like now?
I now live in my own apartment, I have a job, my friends, and take my own decisions – sometimes with support, when I need it. My life has improved a lot! Now I am the one helping others. For example, I regularly meet up with Slávinka, a young woman living in an institution close to my place. I’ve been taking care of her since she came to the institution, she was 3 years old at the time. We go out of the institution together, visiting the town or staying at my place. I like her very much.
Our Inclusion Heroine of October was Fina Burgos, who is doing valuable volunteer work:
“I can help other people be happy”
Our Inclusion Hero of September was Henrique Amoedo from Portugal, who founded an inclusive dance company:
“The magic of art is exactly this: being able to reach people in different ways”
Our Inclusion Heroine of August was Maribel Cáceres, who fought to regain her right to vote:
“It is totally worth the trouble!”
Our Inclusion Hero of July was Charles, a young man from France:
“Charles – a young man challenging preconceptions”
Our Inclusion Hero of June was Hendrik Jan Menninga, a “UN ambassador”:
“We make sure that the UN CRPD is not just a piece of paper”
Our Inclusion Hero of May was Sami Helle, a musician, self-advocate and politician:
“I chose what felt good. You see: I love music!”
Our Inclusion Hero of April was Gerhard Furtner, the managing director of a company that employs people with learning disabilities:
“This type of inclusion should catch on everywhere in Europe”
Our Inclusion Heroine of March was Dana Migaliova, a mother of a son with intellectual disabilities and president of our Lithuanian member Viltis:
“Parents no longer have to hide their children”
Our Inclusion Heroine of February was Irish actress & musician Aimée Richardson:
“More roles must be written for people with intellectual disabilities!”
Our Inclusion Heroine of January was self-advocate Elisabeta Moldovan from Romania:
“I experienced a lot of abuse in institutions. I wanted to change this situation for others.”