One of the key outcomes of the Continental CBR Congress in Oaxaca was an emerging sense of solidarity at three levels:

  • First, solidarity at the level of Community Based Rehabilitation programs within countries and internationally. A commitment was made to form a Continent-wide network for all of Latin America and the Caribbean. This network would in turn be part of worldwide network being spearheaded by Dr. Chapal Khasnabis of the World Health Organization.

  • Second, an empowering sense of solidarity at the level of people with disability, their organizations, and their families, embracing all disabilities and strata of society.

  • Third, a growing spirit of solidarity with all oppressed and marginalized groups, locally, continent-wide and globally. This broader vision of CBR—or better said, “Inclusive Development” —as part of a grassroots struggle to build a fairer, more inclusive, more sustainable world for all, was to many of us the most promising and empowering hallmark of the Congress.

The evolution of CBR toward a developmentally revolutionary, politically inclusive movement was reflected by speakers at the Congress, in the following cartoons:

Katharina Pfortner of Christofel-Blindenmission (CBM) illustrated the difference between the earlier goal of “Conditional Integration” or “Normalization” of the disabled person into society and the current CBR goal of “Inclusion” and “Empowerment.”


In closing, I’d like to echo the sentiment of disabled activists in many corners of the world:

We do not want to be normalized into an unjust world that excludes those who are different or disadvantaged. Rather we wish to join with all underprivileged groups to build a kinder, more socially just world: a world that celebrates diversity and upholds Equal Rights and Full Inclusion for All.