Luz Dary Chavez
This profile was prepared when Luz Dary Chavez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Luz Dary has developed a community-based center that both provides services in areas where they would not otherwise exist and brings disabled children and adults out of back rooms and into community life. Although the center does employ professionals to administer treatment, the day-to-day management and decision making are handled by community members with handicapped relatives. Luz Dary's center, called DAVIDA, also helps families to overcome the shame they feel because of their disabled relatives, demonstrating to them that the disabled have abilities and that they can help their relatives by supporting their progress. Through the center, parents also learn how to work with their children at home in order to give them the full benefits of therapy.In addition to being community-conceived and run, Luz Dary's center is unique in that it integrates diagnostic, therapeutic, educational, and recreational services. This stands in contrast to other centers in Colombia that serve only one specific need, thus obligating parents to transport their children from place to place for various types of treatment. Luz Dary is also developing a diversified financial base for the center, using government support to pay for therapeutic services, collecting donations, and developing revenue-generating microenterprises according to the needs and abilities of the disabled.