Erzsébet Szekeres

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1998
Alliance Rehabilitation


This profile was prepared when Erzsébet Szekeres was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Erzsébet Szekeres has developed a program to address three of the most difficult problems that disabled adults face in Hungary - a lack of job training, few employment opportunities, and a housing shortage. By addressing these issues, she is helping the disabled to be as independent as possible and is replacing the outdated, paternalistic approach of the state toward this segment of society. During her own experience of trying to provide the best possible care for her disabled son, Tibor, Erzsébet quickly realized that the only way the fate of the disabled in Hungary would improve would be for them and their families to organize and begin to replace the state's inadequate services.

The comprehensive nature of Erzsébet's normalization and integration work is what sets her apart from other disability programs in Hungary. Whereas other programs and organizations may focus on one particular area of need, such as housing or employment, Erzsébet recognizes that in a context of poor or nonexistent services and facilities for the disabled, a macro-approach is more likely to improve the overall quality of life for the disabled. Her approach addresses all of the fundamental components for a happy and productive life. First, she provides educational/training opportunities for young adults and then helps to place them in work environments where they can apply the skills that they have learned. In addition, she has developed a network of specially designed housing units for her clients so that they might have the greatest degree of independence possible. Finally, she is also providing comprehensive psychological counseling for both clients and their families.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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