A different way of looking at disability

 

For our CSR activity, our group worked with Leonard Cheshire Disability Foundation Philippines Inc (LCDFII), a non-profit organization whose aim is to enrich the lives and promote independence of people with disabilities.  One of their programs is the access to livelihood which is funded by the Accenture Foundation.   Through their Livelihood Resources Center, they build the skills and confidence of people with disability and create opportunities for them to succeed in work or enterprise.

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The foundation together with the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Mabitac, Laguan, assessed and identified 25 people with disabilities, which will be awarded a livelihood program.  They interviewed the 25 people with varying disabilities and asked what type of livelihood they want to pursue. Some of those livelihoods are sari-sari store, electronic loading, poultry, and repair shop.

Before the livelihood was awarded to the recipient, a basic financial literacy seminar was conducted.  This where my group comes in.  The foundation coordinated with ANZ Bank and a representative of the bank will conduct the seminar entitled Money Minded.  Our group assisted in the facilitating the seminar.  We go around to check and assist the participants in the activities.  Since the participants have varying disabilities, they need special attention which we gladly provide, though there are participants who came in with their family members.

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One of the activities they did and we assisted with is the Vision Board, where they will draw or write their goals in life.   Afterwards they were divided into two groups and discusses among themselves their vision boards.  Before they were asked to accomplish their vision board, the difference of dreams and goals was discussed to them.  Several examples were given as to distinguish one from the other.  Since the facilitator is busy discussing the content of the seminar, it is up to us to hand out materials and guide the participants in doing their vision board.  Most of them are reluctant to start their vision board, it’s as if they are afraid to put down into drawing/writing their goals in life.  After several minutes of coaxing they eventually started working on their vision board.  Their goals were very simple; a sari-sari store as source of income, a house of their own, and a bicycle repair shop.  Watching them go through the activity gave some weird feeling; a mixture of sadness and happiness.  Happy that they were given access to livelihood and sad because it is apparent how hard life has been for them.  If I had my way, I will help all of them.

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One of the participants (a deaf mute) discusses the contents of her vision board through her mother

They were also taught to differentiate needs from wants and was given an activity where they will identify things that they either need or want.   They also taught the importance of having a budget and how to prepare one.  In this topic, they were given an exercise where they have work on a budget where the actual expenses exceeded the income.  They adjusted the budget and try to cut down some expenses to decrease the overall expenses.

Not everyone was cooperative but the program was a success.  After the seminar, the livelihood of their choice have been awarded to them.  While the livelihood given to them was not that much, it is a good start.  If they apply what they have learned during the literacy seminar in running their business, they will succeed in managing it.  May God bless them and their new business ventures.

The entire experience was very rewarding for me.  I enjoyed interacting with the community.   It is quite challenging to communicate with them because they are very shy and wary of strangers.  I like talking to them because they are very straight forward and simple.  There are a few who doesn’t mind sharing some stories with us and I was willing to listen and I realized that they have so much to say and it seemed like no one really bothered to listen so the moment someone actually pays attention they talk endlessly.  I even made friends with one of the recipient/participants, Bitoy, who drew a flower for me and wrote best friends forever.  I was so touched, I almost cried.  I enjoyed and learned so much from this community service.    This is one experience I will never forget.

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The livelihood awarded to the recipients will change their lives for the better.  This signals a new beginning in their lives, one that is full of hope for great things to come their way.  Giving these people opportunities to earn a living and be independent is very important.  While talking to them I have learned how much the hate being a burden to their family and having the chance to actually ease the burden is such a huge gift for them.  The seminar they attended also taught them practical ideas that they cause in their daily lives.

 

This experience has thought to appreciate all the blessings I have received.  I also realized that there are so many ways that I can help those people in need.  This experience made me consider a career in social enterprise.  Not only will I earn a living but will also be able to help those people in need.   I strongly believe that it is possible for a company to earn a profit while being ethical and philanthropic.  I intend to volunteer on future projects of the foundation.  As my continuing support to this cause, I plan to sponsor a livelihood package for at least one PWD per year.  I have also started spreading the word to families and friends, one friend of mine already expressed interest in volunteering.

 

People with disability should be given opportunities to better their lives.  Their disability should not stop them from getting a chance at a good life.  I strongly believe that the government and private agencies should assist them not just in the treatment of their disability but also in terms of education and livelihood.  How can they get a job if they didn’t attend school?  How can they qualify for a job, if they don’t have the skill?  I am sure they don’t want to be burden to their family and the society and they don’t have to be if we give them the access to education and livelihood.  They don’t want to rely in charity and they won’t if we empower them.  They don’t need our pity, they need our encouragement and acceptance.  They are just like us.

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