Dana Migaliova


This profile was prepared when Dana Migaliova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
As the mother of an autistic son, Dana began her fight long ago to protect him from societal discrimination and indifference. Unable to imagine her child locked away in an institution, which has long been the socially-accepted treatment, Dana decided the only hope for disabled people to live a “normal life” was to set up legal and social systems to support them. Joined by other families, she began building coalitions and demanding that people with disabilities be treated as equal members of society with the right to education, medical treatment, occupational opportunities, and a regular home life.
To realize her vision, Dana founded the Lithuanian Welfare Society for Persons with Mental Disability, or Viltis, which means “hope.” She began by focusing on developing the legal and budgetary frameworks necessary to build up essential services—and also set about educating doctors, school teachers, parents, and policymakers about people with disabilities. Sustained, creative action is the central element of her work; having made great progress in Lithuania, Dana is not slowing down. She is now working intensively with partners in eight neighboring countries to find appropriate strategies for them drawing on lessons already learned in Lithuania.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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