Handy Cup 2011 Partnership Building and Networking Conference

We are all in the same boat- Welcome Document


Handy Cup Onlus and the Inspire Foundation, with the support of the NGO No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), welcome the associations from Mediterranean countries that deal with disability and issues of serious social disadvantage, and the participating government Institutions of these countries. We are confident that the dialogue initiated amongst all participants, whether NGOs or government institutions, will be interesting and fruitful and that it will lead to the creation of realistic expectations and the fulfilment of peace and solidarity through active citizenship. Our aim is this meeting will not be a simple celebration of what has already been achieved, but rather an invitation to ask for more tangible signs of solidarity, such as:

  • the establishment of a network of projects between the southern and northern shores of our great sea,
  • an exchange of information and experiences which will continue even after Malta and, hopefully,
  • the laying down of the groundwork for our next chance to meet again in another Mediterranean port.

The organizers and participants wish to thank His Excellency Dr. Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic of Italy and His Excellency Dr. George Abela, President of the Republic of Malta, as well as, the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries for their patronage. We would also like to thank the other governmental and non-governmental organisations taking part, the Institutions of the Mediterranean and the Ambassadors of the participating countries based in Malta, for their commitment and spirit of cooperation in furthering the interests and the rights of young, disabled.
Through this meeting we address young people with disabilities and serious social disadvantages, we address their parents, relatives and friends who are slowly, but surely, finding more suitable spaces and opportunities in civil society for their needs and their aspirations to be realized. We would also like to take the opportunity to show our appreciation and to thank the thousands of doctors, care workers and institutions who dedicate their precious time and resources to supporting persons with disabilities and other minority groups who may be socially disadvantaged in one way or another. We also show appreciation for the United Nations’ Resolution to mainstream disability issues in the development agenda and, the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth guidelines
We also thank the educators and the professors of Neurosciences, Psychiatry, Psychology, Pedagogy and Anthropology, whose studies and research facilitate the identification, mapping and assessment of new ways and means to better the well-being, livelihood and social interaction of persons affected by disability.
We address the institutions of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea which deal specifically with disability and serious social disadvantages, as well as those institutions that, in various ways, have encouraged the active participation in public life of people with disabilities, given particular attention to the particular needs of affected groupings and, individuals also through the distribution of effective economic and education resources.
“We are ALL in the same boat” insists that one should never close the door on dialogue and inclusion, thus making it possible to manage conflict, distance and, differences in such a way that nobody feels unwelcome or is excluded from our common environment and heritage: the Mediterranean Sea.
With the “We are ALL in the same boat” meeting in Malta, we particularly intend to place the question of the rights of people with disabilities at the very centre of the various fora where civil society discusses human rights, as we never want to separate the former from the latter again.
“We are ALL in the same boat” wants participants here in Malta to share the expectation that discussions emerging from this meeting can actually spur on the movement for integration, development and peace which has involved all the countries in the Mediterranean area through regional and international cooperation.
“We are in ALL in the same boat” invites all participants to reflect upon whether pluralism and diversity, the different abilities that each of us has, can be an extra resource, and can, with simplicity and loving affection, add to an empowerment which is positive and peaceful for all, nobody excluded.
We ask whether a community can really exist where, instead of separating people and distinguishing among them in order to feel stronger, there is active inclusion and union of all differences so that people feel more human. We ask whether schools and education system can always be built by young people, teachers and teaching staff, in a fair, inclusive and peaceful manner.
We maintain that health and community support systems should focus on providing services based on individual needs and aspirations and on the principals of loving care, respect for individual independence, and dignity of the individual, regardless of their ability or disability. This is preferable to systems based purely on “treatment” and “professional control”.
”We are ALL in the same boat” wants to express the conviction that a boat is a metaphor for an inclusive space based on helpful interaction. It also indicates, through the difficulties involved in sailing, the paradigm of every person’s life, as, through sailing we have learned how to discover new lands, develop new relationships and give effect to the rights not adequately recognized. For example: the right that disabled people and their relatives demand to navigate through the uncertainties of life, to finding their way even if they are disorientated, the right to sail on through the frontier of human language, on that horizon of indecision and fragility which is not, as many believe, made up of lack of ability or failure.
The right to helpful interaction, an essential element when one is aboard a boat, expressing the wish to give and ask for help and to discover how, thanks to this interaction, it is possible to sail together towards new destinations. The right to let the sails fall, to let go, to open up towards what is unknown and different, just as one opens up to the sea and to the unexpected every time one sets sail from your port.
“We are ALL in the same boat” does not just ask for help for disabled people, but, more importantly it sees disabled people themselves as being the bearers of the indispensable resources which are essential if we are indeed to sail together peacefully and at last feel that we are all, effectively, full crew-members in the same boat!