Aleksis Sarma is one of founders of the “Latvian Movement for Independent Living” which was founded in 2009 and has been involved in this for the past four years. He is an active member of society and is currently studying social work in a Bachelor program. He actively participates in the “Latvian Red Cross Youth” activities and in the “Apeirons” discussion club.
The “Latvian Movement for Independent Living” has as its goal to make an inclusive society with equal opportunities for people with disabilities; meaning that the local community is really for everyone. Society should be where every person is of high value, where every person with disability has the same opportunities as all other people.
Alexis believes that through one’s own capabilities it’s necessary to reach independent life by for example being able to make one’s own choices on what to eat or which shirt to wear each day.
“I’m the same as everyone else, with my own wishes, needs and goals. Therefore, I am trying to be more independent, trying to find a job and show society that we are also here.”
Aleksis often thinks that sometimes society does not have an understanding of people with disabilities. For example: “a few years ago I had to face an unpleasant situation when a grandmother responding to her grandson regarding my disability said it is because he was disobedient in childhood. After this kind of explanation children could start thinking that all people with disability were disobedient in childhood and as a result, he/she will try to avoid people with disabilities.”
What is your personal experience of disability?
I am disabled since birth. I have congenital hand anomalies.
How did you discover the Independent Living movement?
Through the association “Latvian Movement for Independent Living”. I am one of the founders of the association which was founded in 2009. I have been involved for four years.
Is there an area of Independent Living that you are especially interested in?
I have no special area of interest, but I would like that people with disabilities would be more independent.
Who has influenced you the most, and how?
My godmother who lives in Latvia – I have two godmothers. One lives in the USA, the other one lives in Latvia. When I studied in primary school, my Godmother encouraged me to go independently by public transport from home to school and from school to home and other places. So I started to become more independent.
Of what personal achievement are you most proud?
I am proud of many of my achievements, for example, I can fry an egg, button shirt buttons with help of a special device, photography etc.
What motivates you to be active?
Both other people with disabilities who have achieved a lot, for example athletes, and I myself, because I would like to be more independent, find a job, have my own family etc.
Do you have a favorite saying or proverb?
Disability is not a barrier for doing things that you like.
What other interests do you have?
I like to read books, take pictures and to be taken in photos with celebrities.
What advice would you give to young disabled persons?
Do not be afraid to be independent.
If you had the opportunity to change things, what would you like to change in the disability field in your country?
There should be more political interest in this field and greater support for people with disabilities. Society should change it’s attitude towards people with disabilities.