Lenin Moreno is the current United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, in office since December 2013. Prior to being appointed in this role, he had served as the Vice President of Ecuador from 2007 to 2013. He is a paraplegic and one of the very few disabled leaders in the world. Due to his intimate knowledge of paralysis and the challenges faced by people with disabilities, he proved to be very sensitive towards the needs and requirements of disabled people. While in office he implemented several progressive reforms aimed at improving the quality of life of the people living with disabilities. Born into a middle-class family, Moreno enjoyed a normal and happy childhood. He was a good student who went on to become a successful professional. He also ventured into politics and soon built a reputation for himself in this field as well. Life took a turn for the worse when he was grievously injured in a robbery cum shooting incident which left him paralyzed from waist down. Ever the resilient and courageous soul, he returned to politics after his recovery, and was elected as the Vice President. He has received numerous awards for his bravery and for the role he has played in making life better for the disabled citizens of his country
Childhood & Early Life
Lenín Voltaire Moreno Garcés was born on March 19, 1953, in Nuevo Rocafuerte, Orellana Province, Ecuador into a middle-class family. His father Servio Tulio Moreno was a professor who believed in helping the less privileged sections of the society. As an educator he worked hard to promote integration of the schools in their town so that indigenous children and mestizo children could learn together.
Lenin studied at the Instituto Nacional Mejia (Mejia National Institute), in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, before moving on to the Colegio Nacional Sebastian Benalcazar (Sebastian Benalcazar National School).
Later on he went to the Universidad Central del Ecuador (Central University of Ecuador), from where he earned a degree in public administration. He was a good student and had an innate interest in understanding the psychology of human beings. He was also a very principled young man.
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In 1976 he became the Director of the Continental Professional Training Center. He was a hard working and ambitious man and soon established himself in a successful career.
Over the next few years he served as the Director of OMC Publigerencia Andina, sales manager of Satho and marketing manager of Zitro.
His success in the corporate sector fuelled his political ambitions and he soon moved to the public sector. During his initial years in the public sector he served in an administrative post with the Minister of Government.
Eventually he went on to work in the public tourism industry and during the course of his work founded the Chamber of Tourism of Pichincha, and served as the Executive Director of the National Federation of Tourism Chambers and Executive Director of the Chamber of Tourism of Pichincha.
In January 1998 he was shot in the back by gunmen who stole his car and money. He was grievously injured in the shooting and was paralyzed from the waist down. For several years he was bedridden and on the verge of depression. But being the resilient soul that he was, he turned to laughter therapy and gradually began to recover from the physical and mental trauma of the shooting.
He eventually started using a wheelchair and returned to his work as a public servant. In January 2007 Lenin Moreno was elected the Vice President of Ecuador. Assuming office at a time when the disabled in Ecuador were treated like outcasts, he vowed to do something for their betterment.
He founded the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission for the Disabled, which offers rehab, technical help, and psychological support to thousands of disabled Ecuadorians. Over a period of time the mission spread to the neighboring countries of Paraguay, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador and Colombia. His tenure as the Vice President ended in May 2013.
He was appointed as Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December 2013.
As a firm believer in the power of humor, and the role that laughter and joy can play in helping a person deal with physical and emotional illnesses, he has authored several books on the theory of humor.
Some of his books on the theory of humor are ‘Filosofía para la vida y el trabajo’ (Philosophy for life and work), ‘Teoría y Práctica del Humor’ (Theory and Practice of Comedy), ‘Ser Feliz es Fácil y Divertido’ (Being Happy is Easy and Fun), ‘Los Mejores Chistes del Mundo’ ( World's Best Jokes), ‘Humor de los Famosos’ (Humor of the Famous).
Awards & Achievements
The Government of Peru honored him with the Order of the Sun of Peru in the rank of Grand Cross while he was serving as the Vice President of Ecuador. First established in 1821, the award is the oldest civilian award in the Americas.
He has also received various Honoris Causa awards, notably from the Universidad de las Americas (University of the Americas), Universidad Tecnica del Norte del Ecuador (Technical University of Northern Ecuador) and the Universidad San Martin de Colombia (San Martin University of Colombia).
In 2012, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his “Ecuador sin barreras” (Ecuador without Barriers) projects, the Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission, and the governmental policies he promoted for the betterment of the lives of people with disabilities. The award was ultimately given to The European Union.
Personal Life & Legacy
Lenin Moreno is married and has three daughters.
After the shooting incident that left him a paraplegic, he took to laughter therapy. Eventually he formed the foundation “Eventa” to promote humor and laughter as a way of healing oneself after a debilitating incident.