Such a contrast.
Sitting in a hotel room watching a report on the plight of people with intellectual disabilities in Serbia - seeing horrific images of adult bodies twisted to fit into cribs they were never lifted out of. Hearing the cries of a people who's entire life is an experience of abuse and abandonment. While outside my room over a hundred people with disabilities were gathering to be part of a conference about rights, about voice and about freedom.
The next morning I led a session for those self advocate and for two hours we worked together, laughed together and learned together. I tried not to let those images get in the way of what I was doing. I tried to focus on the journey here to this place for those who were attending. Most were of the age to know institutionalization, to know being placed apart. Most here could speak to the issues of abuse.
It's natural to want those images to be foreign, away from us, something that others do ... but it's not. Perhaps what was shown was more extreme than what we did ... but I'm reminded of 'Christmas in Purgatory' the stunning photographic essay of institutionalization in the United States - the images weren't far off from what was shown on television.
Yet there are those who want to stem the tide of freedom for those with disabilities, want to reopen the doors of the institution, close the doors of the community. There are two things that must be at the forefront of our minds.