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32nd SBAA and 16th IF Conference, Minneapolis, 26-29 June 2005

 

Welcome by the president

Welcome to the 16th International conference for spina bifida and hydrocephalus, the third world conference hosted by the SBAA. In the USA we have held conferences in Denver (1987), Washington DC (1988) and now in Minneapolis.

For overseas participants the SBAA conferences always have been and are a wonderful experience. Shopping lectures in an overwhelming programme for adults, kids, parents and caretakers. Hundreds of families and individuals together as one big family. On the SBAA website I read that this year the conference will be multi-cultural and multi-national. “Building Bridges to Advance Understanding. We are a vital and international community. At this year’s Conference we will share the victories and concerns that unite all of us who live with spina bifida around the world”.

When we meet, indeed, there is an immediately feeling of equality and dignity. We enhance what we have in common by sharing a problem: spina bifida and hydrocephalus. Borders between religions, left and right, poor and rich, North and South, East and West disappear. A mother of a child with Spina Bifida in Dar Es Salaam has more in common with a mother in Minneapolis more than they differ culturally. Their fight for their children with disabilities confronts them with the most fundamental values of life. That’s what they have in common. The cultural differences become an added value because the contact starts from something which binds us and not from something which separates us.

The spina bifida world becomes a village where we can learn and find solutions for problems at the other side of the globe. IF is a unique worldwide network with a treasure of knowledge on all aspects of hydrocephalus and spina bifida. We call this network the IF Knowledge Centre because we believe that knowledge is the key to a better life. In 2004 SBAA became an active partner in this IF Knowledge Centre by nominating SBAA director, Cindy Brownstein, to the IF board. I am convinced that this close cooperation is of benefit to both organisations.

I know that this conference will give the international community a lot of new ideas. The shopping cart will be overloaded with useful information to take back home. Thanks America, thanks SBAA and I invite all of you to become an active partner of the worldwide IF network.

 

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