Interview

Volume 7 Issue 4 - February 15, 2010

“D.R.F. would like to promote further advocacy work on C.R.P.D. to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities,” Szporluk, Deany

Paul Deany & Michael Szporluk
Paul Deany & Michael Szporluk

In this edition of D.N.I.S., we bring you a joint interview with Michael Szporluk, Programme Officer, Disability Rights Fund (D.R.F.) and Paul Deany, also a Programme Officer with D.R.F. Michael has worked for over 10 years in various capacities connected to strengthening local civil society and promoting the rights of marginalized populations. Paul has 15 years international development experience focusing on disability, H.I.V./A.I.D.S. and community development, working with World Vision, U.N. Development Programme, U.N.A.I.D.S., Burnet Institute and various community based organizations. During their recent visit to India, D.N.I.S. caught up with the duo on D.R.F. and much more…

D.N.I.S.: Tell us something about Disability Rights Fund (D.R.F.).

Michael Szporluk & Paul Deany: The Disability Rights Fund (D.R.F.) brings together a group of seven international donors supporting the advancement of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (C.R.P.D.). Since forming in early 2008, D.R.F. has supported 115 grants in 14 countries, providing U.S.D. 2.8 million in funding. The majority of D.R.F. staff and Steering Committee members are persons with disabilities. Our grant-making is focused on supporting Disabled Persons’ Organizations (D.P.O.s). D.R.F. provides two types of grants: small grants for individual organizations or partnerships, and national coalition grants for national level initiatives.

D.N.I.S.: What are the core areas that D.R.F. is working on in developing countries?

Michael Szporluk & Paul Deany: D.R.F.’s. small grants priorities include: activities for building the capacity of D.P.O.s to address C.R.P.D. and promote greater inclusion of marginalized groups; and rights-based advocacy to advance C.R.P.D. or propose legislation/amendments to ensure accordance with C.R.P.D. National coalition grants priorities are: advocacy work towards C.R.P.D. ratification (India ratified the Convention in 2007); working with civil society to lobby governments to harmonize national disability legislation in line with C.R.P.D.; and support for D.P.O.s to draft alternative or shadow reports to State Party reports to the U.N. Committee of Experts.

D.N.I.S.: What projects are you currently working on in India?

Michael Szporluk & Paul Deany: D.R.F. began grant making in India in 2009 through five organizations, all focusing on rights-based advocacy on C.R.P.D.: (i) Human Rights Law Network (H.R.L.N.), to propose amendments to disability laws; (ii) Chaitanya Vikalungula Hakkula Vedika (C.V.H.V.), a D.P.O. in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh working to increase the capacity of C.V.H.V. to work with the local government to promote the rights of persons with disabilities; (iii Network of Persons with Disabilities Organization (N.P.D.O.) who are strengthening the work of D.P.O.s in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa through training for disability leaders and district level training for community organizers; (iv) Parivaar, the ‘National Confederation of Parents Organizations for Persons with Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities’, who are piloting a Supported Decision Making model to enable persons with intellectual disabilities to maintain their full legal capacity and make their own decisions; and (v) Prathibha, who are creating cross-disability self advocacy groups in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

D.N.I.S.: What kind of work would you like to promote in India?

Michael Szporluk & Paul Deany: D.R.F. would like to promote further advocacy work on C.R.P.D. that contributes to advancement of human rights of persons with disabilities. Our work in India will focus on grant making to D.P.O.s in Karnataka, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and National Coalitions. Grant making will be through small annual grants of U.S.D. 5,000 – 20,000 and through National Coalitions with grants of U.S.D. 60,000 – 100,000 over two years.

D.N.I.S.: If any D.P.O. in India wants to approach you for funds, then what should they do?

Michael Szporluk & Paul Deany: Requests for proposals will be announced in mid-February 2010 on D.R.F.’s website www.disabilityrightsfund.org. Small Grant applications will be due in late March and National Coalition applications in mid April. Frequently Asked Questions about the grant making process and D.R.F. priorities will also be posted on D.R.F. website, along with background information about D.R.F. and our work in other countries. Further information can also be sought by contacting the D.R.F. Programme Officer responsible for India, Paul Deany, at pdeany@disabilityrightsfund.org.

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