Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1994
Coletivo Refazendo


This profile was prepared when Dulcinea de Oliveira Xavier was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Dulcinea Xavier is persuaded that low-income families with children (or other loved ones) with disabilities are in desperate need of assistance in addressing that challenging and stressful dimension of their lives. She is also convinced of a similarly pressing need to change the perceptions and attitudes of the public at large toward people with disabilities, and of the benefits, to all parties involved, of integrating such people into the mainstream of community and national life.
She is thus developing an array of services and support networks to assist the affected families and devising new ways to combat conventional views and attitudes toward disabled people and the place that they should occupy in the community at large. In those endeavors, she is emphasizing both the special needs of women in the affected families and the contributions that women can make as advocates of needed changes.
The services that she is working to make available include a public health reference system, which will provide better diagnostic information and guidance for people with disabilities and their families, and a network of professionals and volunteers to provide solidarity and counseling at the moment of diagnosis and the traumatic early stages of coming to terms with new and difficult responsibilities.
Dulcinea's efforts to change public attitudes toward people with disabilities and their integration into society at large include the organization of citizens groups to develop new programs toward that end at the community level and the mobilization of similar initiatives by women's groups associated with rehabilitation centers. As a leading member of an association of relatives and friends of people with Down's Syndrome, she is also negotiating with school systems to make sure that legally mandated places in public schools are in fact made available to children with disabilities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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