Celebrating Changemakers: Meeting with Newly Elected Ashoka Fellows

"Ashoka is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs—men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, we have elected over 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries.

With our global community, we develop models for collaboration and design infrastructure needed to advance the field of social entrepreneurship and the citizen sector.

Our Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations - demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers."(www.ashoka.org)

On the 18th September Bhargavi and I attended a meeting for newly elected Indian Ashoka Fellows. About 25 colleagues and some of the Ashoka staff participated in the meeting, which was part of a three day initiation to the world of Ashoka: The Global Association of Leading Social Entrepreneurs. 7 of the new Fellows work in the mental health and intellectual disability fields.

Bhargavi shared her experiences as an Ashoka Fellow and spoke about the collaborations she has been involved to strive for access to justice for people living with mental illness.

I gave an introduction to the Fellows Exchange Programme under which I spend this six month period in India. I spoke about my involvement with the negotiations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and about how ow we are working on the implementation of it for people with mental health problems (psychosocial disability) both in India and in Hungary. Talking about the principle of "Nothing about us without us" I emphasized the importance of self-advocacy. The exchange programme gave us an opportunity to design democratic deliberations on the implementation.

Both Bhargavi and I were elaborating on what opportuntiy means in social change. What opportunity meant for us as changemakers in our endeavour to bring about tangible changes in the lives of people with psychosocial disability? How we can use legal and other forms of advocacy to create opportunity for ourselves and our peers.

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