Raising the Voices (2000 – 2004)
More than 60 mine survivors had participated in the Raising the Voices program, established in 2000, implemented by Landmine Survivors Network for the World Group on Victim Assistance(WGVA) and supported by the governments of Canada and Norway. Raising the Voices was a leadership and advocacy training program for mine survivors, which ended after 2004.
In 2004, twenty-two survivors from 13 countries or regions in Europe and the Middle East (Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen) participated in the program, while, in 2003, sixteen landmine survivors from seven countries in Asia (Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand) participated. In addition to telling their personal stories, landmine survivors are now consulted for substantive input into the work of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration(SC-VA). The WGVA has advocated with States Parties for the “institutionalization” of participation of landmine survivors in the inter-sessional meetings and annual meeting of state parties of the Mine Ban Treaty in the post-Nairobi period.
In each meeting of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Raising the Voices group has made interventions on a range of topics:
Latin America (2001)[Participants from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Nicaragua] Rehabilitation is a precondition to every other step required for a disabled person to become fully integrated into society. Access to rehabilitation services is inadequate or unavailable in our region. In addition, access to public places is fundamentally necessary and directly connected to our rights to earn a living to get education to get health care and to participate in society. To ensure equal participation in society we need a means of achieving economic empowerment. We need laws and policies that can provide a framework for our participation and allow us to progress in our societies.
Africa (2002)[Participants from Angola, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda] Our goal is not to solve all the problems faced by persons with disabilities, but rather to empower them to improve the quality of their own lives. One way to improve landmine survivors’ lives is to ensure their access to basic education as this is very limited for most survivors, especially women. Basic education and literacy should be considered a form of victim assistance. Empowerment is the power to choose one’s path in life whether it be the path of a tailor or the path of a lawyer and basic literacy training opens doors to any of these paths. In the Mine Ban Treaty, care, rehabilitation, social integration, and economic integration are all mentioned, as they should be, but we recommend an emphasis on the fact that care, rehabilitation, and social integration should lead to economic integration. It is really true that people prefer not to beg – they would rather work.
Asia (2003)[Participants from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand] We encourage governments to promote persons with disabilities participation in the workforce through support including vocational training, quota schemes, technical or financial assistance to companies employing persons with disabilities, and grants or interest-free loans to help start projects or small businesses. To ensure success, persons with disabilities should receive technical assistance, and where possible financial assistance, at all stages from development to training to implementation and ongoing evaluation. We encourage governments to promote and assist persons with disabilities to establish and strengthen self-help groups so they can play a role in developing law and policy on disability issues. Governments should adopt a consistent approach to disability and ensure that landmine survivors benefit from the relevant programs.
East Europe (2004)[Participants from Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Croatia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine] In order to live as equal and independent citizens, we require access. Rule Five of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities lists five specific areas of society for which accessibility is key: infrastructures, transportation, buildings, communication systems, and assistive devices. On economic reintegration, we recommend that 1) laws not discriminate against landmine survivors, 2) employers of landmine survivors receive tax reduction, 3) the promotion of professional, including re-qualification, training, 4) self-employment, especially small businesses and home based businesses, 5) favorable loan conditions for self-employment of mine survivors, 6) prioritization in tendering and contracting to companies that employ mine survivors, 7) flexible hours for mine survivors, 8) equal and adequate pay for mine survivors, 9) employment of mine survivors in the public sector, 10) establishment of a fund for pilot programs that is financed by the taxation of luxury goods.
The Middle East (2004)[Participants from Jordan, Lebanon, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen] In the daily life of persons with disabilities access is important whether in collecting water, going to school, trying to get to work, applying for a job, or participating in international events such as the Nairobi Summit. Ensuring access requires that effective measures be undertaken immediately including the legal and policy change. We would like to emphasize four of the many components of social and economic reintegration: the right to work, policy-making and planning, formation of associations for landmine survivors, and technical and economic cooperation.
Survivor Corps launched the US Program in 2008 to help American service members returning home from war. This program enabled these brave men and women to overcome the debilitating effects of trauma and to reintegrate into their families and communities.
Our US Program included three initiatives:
- Community – based Partnerships in Peer Support – We were training organizations to connect those affected by war so that they may better overcome trauma and injury, reconnect with their families, and contribute to their communities. This approach, known as peer support, is based on the understanding that the best help comes from someone who has been through a similar experience.
- Survivor Net – We were building an online community of support that would connect service members to peers with a shared experience, using survivor hosted blogs, innovative social networking, and links to additional resources.
- Convene Government, Business, and Nonprofit Institutions – No single organization can fully address the homecoming of so many. A collaborative approach is needed. Survivor Corps was bringing together, for the first time, leaders from across sectors to work together on a better approach to the healthy reintegration of returning troops.