Tales from the volunteers

I am 29 years old (30 in March) and I am from the Republic Of Ireland. 

My time with ENIL has come to an end. I was the ESC volunteer from June to December 2021. It was an eye opening and exciting experience. I got the opportunity to support the organisation of events such as ENIL’s “Freedom Surf” in September. I was also given the chance to interact with the UNCRPD secretariat, acting as a note taker during consultations. This gave me good knowledge of how the UNCRPD secretariat and its committee operated.

I was able to attend NUIG’s online summer school on article 30 (right to culture) of the UNCRPD and I got to try my hand at summarizing and writing commentaries based on EU policy documents such as the new European Disability Strategy (2021-2030). Along with other tasks.

I believe my experience gained will help me professionally in the future, as it enabled me to expand my skill set, such as report drafting, and transcribing audio files. I also drafted and published a petition demanding an end to institutionalization in Europe, which so far has reached almost 1,000 people.

However, the most important experience I got from Brussels, was the opportunity to avail of a personal assistance. Hired for me by ENIL. Luz – my PA was helpful and supportive and without their aid I would have found Brussels a lot more difficult, in terms of navigation, accessing transport, cooking, shopping etc. It enabled me to focus more on the work for ENIL and enabled me to truly live independently, something, that all disabled people should have the right to.  I got to explore Waterloo, along with Leuven and a day trip to Amsterdam to visit my sister who is currently living there and parts of the Brussels inner-city.  Hopefully one day we can live in a world where one day this will be the standard for everyone.

Due to COVID I did not get to go into the European Parliament to network with MEPs on behalf of ENIL, however I did get to represent ENIL on a workcation in Italy, which was definitely a highlight of my trip, going in late September till early October. Surrounded by lovely food and meeting new interesting people was a great experience.

I was a little devastated to learn of the EU’s attitude towards disability, and its apparent apathy towards ending institutionalization. There’s a long way to go, in terms of disability emancipation across Europe and beyond, but I think I now have a better understanding of how the EU acts (and doesn’t act) towards disabled people and how it treats organizations like ENIL.

Its just left for me to thank my supervisor Ines Bulic, my colleagues Kamil Goungor, Natasa Kokic, Stanislas Roisin, Michael Goosens, Nadia Hadad and of course last but not least Luz, for enabling me and supporting me to having new experiences that will hopefully lead to exciting new horizons in the near future.

I would also like to thank my sending organization from the UK “Everything Is Possible” for aiding me in going to Brussels along with the JINT funding theme for funding the ESC internship.

Project organised by Everything is Possible and funded by the European Solidarity Corps programme of the European Union – The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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