A group of Indonesian disability rights activists, many using wheelchairs, are outside on a road in Bali.

Cultivating Hope: 15 Years of DRF & the Road Ahead

A group of Indonesian disability rights activists, many using wheelchairs, are outside on a road in Bali.
Indonesian disability rights advocates gather for DRF’s grantee convening in Bali.
Photo: Badet Zarheni

Letter from Catalina Devandas, DRF’s Executive Director

In these times of grief and loss, where do we find sparks of hope?  

For us, hope is the fruition of seeds planted in the past. This month, the passing of the Persons with Disabilities Act in Malawi is a hard-fought win thanks to the long-term labor of movement building. “We are now a step closer to achieving our rights,” said Chrissy Zimba, DRF’s Program Officer for Malawi.  

Hope spans generations. In Uganda, youth with disabilities are creating their own media narratives, envisioning policy and societal revolutions. Our optimism is further sparked seeing mentors with disabilities investing in the next generation of emerging leaders.  

Hope is a catalyst for transformation. In Indonesia and Fiji, we are witnessing women and gender-diverse persons with disabilities slowly dismantle patriarchy and transphobia. This makes us optimistic about the power of intersectional movements to create a safe world for all. 

Hope is ancestral. We build upon the bold aspirations of disability rights activists, like Judy Heumann, who challenged the status quo. We exist because these ancestors of a global disability movement dared to dream, blazing the trail for us!  

Hope lies in marginalized communities that refuse to be silenced. With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turning 75, we will loudly and proudly promote disability rights by anchoring our work in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

Hope is counting on all of us. Thank you for building with us these past 15 years. We have evolved and transformed through trials and transitions. Looking into 2024, we are ready to bring to life our new strategic vision for the next five years, moving forward with renewal and intention.  Donate now to resource transformative movements for inclusion!

Thank you for being an integral part of our journey.