This past month we had a visitor from Tajikistan at Starfire.  

After joining a few of us on a training in Pennsylvania, she wrote this piece and would like to share her thoughts here on Cincibility.  Thanks Marhabo, we wish you the best.

community, projects, Starfire, Cincinnati

Marhabo (right center) at the collaboration project: A Renaissance Dinner with Lauren Froh (front center) and guests

As a Fellow of the Empower Access program, it was very exciting to be invited to take part in the four day workshop on Social Role Valorization (SRV), held in Halifax, Pennsylvania…

I have witnessed at Starfire these SRV concepts in action, namely people attaining valued roles, within a couple weeks of my fellowship. As the executive director Tom Vogt said, Starfire is now in a state of transition. It is on the way to rebuild a program that is focused on deepening relationships in the community between people with disabilities and people without disabilities by focusing on gifts and assets of everyone.

I have noticed that there are lots of different service organizations, institutions or establishments providing services for people with disabilities in the United States.  Starfire is unique because it makes a difference in a person’s life by keeping an eye out for supporting the social roles of people with disabilities in the community.

Observing all this, I try to picture the possibility of implementing the same concept with our partner organizations for people with disabilities in Tajikistan. Of course, it must require huge effort, time, resources, experience, knowledge and support. The organizations of people with disabilities and their members should consciously be agents of change in improving lives and making communities aware that people with disabilities should not be isolated, segregated and pitied, but supported in inclusion and integration. Only then could they too make their contribution to the communities, and change the situation for the better.

The SRV workshop left a great impression on me. The most powerful message that was conveyed at the end of workshop struck me to the bones. This message I would like every human being to accept and follow, is called the “Credo for Support” and was written and produced by Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift, dedicated to the memory of Tracy Latimer.

A credo for support 

Do not see my disability as the problem.

Recognize that my disability as a deficit.

It is you who see me as deviant and helpless.


Do Not try to fix me because I am not broken.

Support me. I can make my

contribution to the community in my own way.


Do Not see me as your client. I am your fellow citizen.

See me as your neighbor. Remember none of us can be self-sufficient.


Do Not try to modify my behavior.

Be still and listen. What you define as inappropriate may be my attempt to

Communicate with you in the only way I can.


Do Not try to change me, you have no right.

Help me learn what I want to know.


Do Not hide your uncertainty behind “professional” distance.

Be a person who listens and does not take my struggle away from me by trying to make it all  better.


Do Not use theorems on strategies on me.

Be with me. And when we struggle with each other, let give rise to self-reflection.


Do Not try to control me. I have a right to my power as a person.

What you call non-compliance or manipulation may actually be the only way I can exert some control over my life.


Do Not teach me to be obedient, submissive, and polite.

I need to feel entitled to say “no” if I am to protect myself.


Do Not be charitable towards me. The last thing the world needs is another Jerry Lewis.

Be my ally against those who exploit me for their own gratification.


Do Not try to be my friend. I deserve more than that.

Get to know me. We may become friends.


Do Not help me, even if it does make you feel good.

Ask me if I need your help. Let me show how you can best assist me.


Do Not admire me. A desire to live a full life does not warrant adoration.

Respect me, for respect presumes equality.


Do Not tell, correct, and lead me.

Listen, Support and Follow.


Do Not work on me.

Work with me.


Copyright 1995.



About katiebachmeyer

I like to collect stuff. But non-material stuff-- like friendships, stories, and wisdom from older people with smile wrinkles. This kind of stuff isn't always well organized or labeled in boxes, but it makes up who I am.
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4 Responses to Impressions

  1. This is wonderful, Marhabo. Thank you for sharing your impressions of Starfire and the US’s current situation with disabilities work.

    I especially love your words, “The organizations of people with disabilities and their members should consciously be agents of change in improving lives and making communities aware that people with disabilities should not be isolated, segregated and pitied, but supported in inclusion and integration.” I’ve only come to realize this whole dimension of things in the past year as I got to know folks through the Toronto Summer Institute… I learn so much from this and the people doing great work within this area and it’s all so relevant to other areas as well with people who are marginalized and labeled (elders, young people, people on welfare, etc).

    LOVE the poem. I will be sharing this. Thank you!!!


  2. timothyvogt says:

    who is this tom vogt? sounds like a weirdo.

    • Anonymous says:

      sorry TIM, its keyboard`s fault, not mine)) You are wonderful person, in the eyes of all members of Starfire I could notice nothing except love, gratitude and respect towards you!

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