Exhibition I DECIDE = I AM

Imagine a life where you are not allowed to take any decision for yourself - from where you live to what you buy. Sounds ridiculous, right? And it is. But thousands of people in Bulgaria have such a life.


Through the system of guardianship (existing in Bulgaria since 1949), the authority over the lives of people with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues is placed in someone else’s hands. This someone, a guardian or a custodian, has control over everything – one’s life, emotions and freedom.

People placed under guardianship have no right to decide anything for themselves – from large things like where to live or whether they will get marry, to small details like what to eat or wear today. These people have no power whatsoever; their voice, their wishes and thoughts have no value before the law. Many of them become victims to their own guardians who benefit from their property or money. Many get confined for life in an institution without having the opportunity to initiate a legal procedure for their release. Being placed under guardianship happens way too easily, and usually lasts forever.


The new approach is called Supported Decision Making. It is provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that is ratified by Bulgaria and is the key to ensuring equality before the law for all – a key that opens the door to being the author of your life time, being part of a community and keeping the control over your own development.


The exhibition by Nadezhda Georgieva (Nad), with texts by Yana Buhrer Tavanier, inspired by real-life stories, shows dreams and opportunities trapped under the glass lid of the law, about losses, differences and loneliness. The exhibition, however, shows also how similar and happy we all can be, when our preferences are respected and we receive the chance to draw our own life story.


Through the exhibition, we aim to gather public support for the abolishment of the system of guardianship and for implementing the guarantees of Article 12 from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and for the adoption of the draft Law on Physical Persons and Support Measures. Implementing the concept of supported decision-making in the law will allow people with disabilities to lead their life, to be part of the community, to make decisions and therefore, to be.


We are expecting you at the official opening of the exhibition on the 12 July 2016 (Tuesday) at 16:00 in House of Culture "Boris Hristov" (Plovdiv, 15 Gladstone Str.).


We will be glad to see you there.


The exhibition is initiated by the Bulgarian Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, the Bulgarian Association for People with Intellectual Disabilities, the Global Initiative in Psychiatry – Sofia, Maria’s World Foundation, with the support of the House of Culture "Boris Hristov".


Media partner – the Bulgarian National Television.


The exhibition is organized within the Next Step Programme of the Bulgarian Centre for Not-for-Profit Law.



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