Carolyn Ramsdell

Carolyn Ramsdell (Survivor Corps in El Salvador): Carolyn received her Bachelor’s degree in journalism and Political Science from Northern Arizona University. She then spent three years in Bolivia with the Peace Corps, where she worked in rural indigenous villages. After her return from Bolivia, Carolyn spent a year working as the Volunteer Resources Manager for St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, the world’s first food bank. At the time of her fellowship, Carolyn was completing her Master’s degree in sustainable development at SIT Graduate Institute with a concentration on policy analysis and advocacy. Her research was focused on development trends in Latin America and human rights.

Advocacy in Action

26 Aug

On Monday, Jesus Martinez, executive director of the Red de Sobrevivientes, and nine other local organizations working for disability rights in El Salvador, met with San Salvador’s newly elected Mayor, Dr. Norman Quijano. The objective of the meeting was to discuss an all-inclusive disability rights platform to be integrated into the Mayor’s new policies, especially in regards to the newly proposed and highly contested Metrobus project.

Mayor of San Salvador, Dr. Norman Quijano speaks with Jesus Martinez, director of Red de Sobrevivientes, about accessibility issues with the newly proposed Metrobus project

Mayor of San Salvador, Dr. Norman Quijano speaks with Jesus Martinez, director of Red de Sobrevivientes, about accessibility issues with the newly proposed Metrobus project

El Diario de Hoy published an article with quite a bit of spin yesterday. The Commission of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities have not committed to support the Metrobus project unless the Mayor agrees to make the new system accessible (by including lifts and ramps, making adjustments of local bus stops and curbs, and include modifications for people with visual impairments).

“Transportation is one of the biggest obstacles for people with disabilities in El Salvador,” Martinez said.

The current system is a socially constructed form of discrimination. For example a person who uses a wheelchair, who cannot afford their own vehicle or who does not have someone who can assist them to get on and off the bus, faces obstacles that sometimes leave them confined to their home or neighborhood. In a city without ramps or enforced regulations to keep sidewalks clear from obstructions (such as parked cars) travel becomes an obstacle course. Without being able to travel freely in the city, persons with disabilities are then forced to face another level of instututional barriers.

If transportation is nearly impossible, think about how difficult it would be to find a job, go to a doctor’s appointment, or even complete daily tasks such as grocery shopping or taking your children to school.

This was only the Commission’s first meeting with the Mayor’s office. Martinez and his associates are hopeful that in the coming weeks there will be a commitment from Quijano to make the new transportation system completely accessible for persons with disabilities. Alberto Monterrosa, assistant manager of Municipal Public Participation office, and David Reyes, a member of the Legislative Assembly who himself uses a wheelchair, have committed to help push the accessibility policy through.

Posted By Carolyn Ramsdell

Posted Aug 26th, 2009

Enter your Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *