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The law that empowered Ecuador's disabled

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The law that empowered Ecuador's disabled

Disabled people in Ecuador were once marginalised, shut up in their homes and considered unemployable. Since 2007, a single government initiative has transformed many of their lives.

Before his accident, Angel Quevedo worked as a house painter in Ecuador's capital city Quito.

He was originally from a farm in the Andean highlands, but had moved to the city to find a job.

During a party at his cousin's house in 1989, a fight broke out. As he got involved to break it up, he was pushed and fell from a terrace on the second floor.

The impact left him paralysed from the waist down.

Pain confined him to bed for eight months, while his family had to sell seven cows to pay for medical expenses.

"It was tough," he says. "All of a sudden I had to depend on other people's help to live."

Slowly Mr Quevedo learnt how to get around in a wheelchair, while he resigned himself to live off the charity of family and friends in a city that became hostile.

"People looked at me strangely," he says. "They called me 'cripple'. They thought I was good for nothing."

Back in 1989 it was unthinkable that a person with a disability could find work in Ecuador.

They were often confined to their family's homes, hidden from society. Those who ventured out in their wheelchairs had to roll next to cars in order to move around the city. Unable to find work, many would beg at traffic lights.

Things started changing in 2007, when Lenin Moreno took over as vice president after winning the elections as Rafael Correa's running mate.

Mr Moreno, who became paraplegic after being shot in the back in 1998, set out to make a difference.

Since taking office, has has implemented the Ecuador without Borders programme, which turned the rights of disabled people into state policy.

The same rights were later included in the 2008 constitution and became an all-encompassing law in 2012.

References and further information

The original article was produced by BBC News.

 

To read the rest of the article visit the BBC News website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23692217

 

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