- September 12, 2018

The International Disability Alliance (IDA) is deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Kalle Könkkölä. Kalle belonged to the first generation of disability rights activists who was steadily defending the rights of persons with disabilities, especially those most marginalised in developing countries through his career and work. 

Through his passion, dedication and activism, Kalle fought many battles so that we would not have to, and paved the way for many of us within the movement. With appreciation for his work and the many others who followed, we also recognise that the movement would have had a different landscape without the contributions of Kalle. 

From the very beginning of his career, Kalle travelled to many under-developed countries and rural villages, meeting and working with local organisations of persons with disabilities. Throughout his career, Kalle was insisting on the importance of supporting persons with disabilities in refugee camps, and in securing the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian responses. 

Kalle was kind, humble, joyful and was constantly considering what the disability rights movement could do next. His innovative streak meant that he was always looking ahead. We - the disability rights movement - recognised his leadership. We listened and we followed. Kalle proposed the establishment of a donor mechanism network. We followed and successfully built the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network. 

Kalle has left a big mark in the disability rights movement, and we will pay tribute to his legacy through our continued advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities. Please join us in recognizing this wonderful figure and leader in the movement.

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