Kuba Marchewicz

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Kuba Marchewicz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Father Kuba has created a system of community support to care for severely disabled individuals, a demographic that has not been adequately supported in Poland. He creates "communities" of parents, volunteers, friends, and institutions that orient themselves around the needs of the disabled. It is the responsibility of each community to raise money and provide support and leadership for its work. Each community is part of a larger network that serves as a decision-making body and provider of general support.
To address the psychological challenges that people with disabilities face, local groups are designed to act as a family for each individual. One-on-one matching with volunteers, the focus on trust and love, and the creation of "settlements" help individuals who often suffer loneliness and feelings of abandonment after their parents have died. Settlements are community-gathering places where the disabled, volunteers, and family members can feel safe and at home. The family-like atmosphere is possible because this is a support structure built upon trust, tenderness, and attention to individuals' needs.
Father Kuba emphasizes the beauty and uniqueness of every disabled person. Involving parents of disabled children, partners, and volunteers, Father Kuba is convinced all parties will learn about mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect. The communities are designed to extend their reach to external audiences in order to educate the public about disabilities, prejudices, and individual and communal responsibility for the disabled. Father Kuba's model is widely replicable.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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