In today’s world there are loads of programs for disabled persons, and loads of programs for recovering addicts. But there are virtually no programs for those who are both disabled and addicted. The need of such programs—ideally run by disabled recovering addicts themselves—presents a challenge. Some of our disabled comrades who have tried to give up drugs believe they might stand a better chance of staying clean if they could collectively do something tangible to help others in need, and by doing so, gain both self-esteem and public respect. If they could earn a living in the process, so much the better. In order to bring this dream to fruition, a proposal was formulated to start a service program run by and for disabled ex-drug-users, to help special-needs children by advocating for their rights, and providing them with needed services.

So it was that a modest new program, dubbed by its members “Habilítate Mazatlán” (Enable-Yourself Mazatlán) was conceived. The group appended “Mazatlán” to the name because most of them live in or near the beautiful but troubled coastal city of Mazatlán.

Habilítate Mazatlán decided to focus on four service activities:

1) Facilitate fun, participatory, discovery-based Child-to-Child activities with schoolchildren, to encourage them to be kinder and more inclusive with children who are disabled or different.

2) Build custom-designed special seating out of recycled cardboard, for disabled children who can benefit from this.

3) Run a modest wheelchair repair shop to service and provide wheelchairs to those in need.

4) Cooperate with PROJIMO Duranguito by identifying children who need custom-made wheelchairs or other assistive equipment, and to help track down the resources to cover the costs.

Habilítate made arrangements for these children, from a special education program in Mazatlán, to have personalized wheelchairs made for them by PROJIMO Duranguito.

A primary objective of the program is to provide quality services and equipment at the lowest possible cost—or free to those in greatest need. The program looks for donations and organizes money-making events—such as dinner parties—at which they present slide-shows of their work. Money that is collected is used to pay for building materials, and, to the extent possible, to provide modest earnings for those who work in the program.