Feature: Determination triumphs over disability PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 July 2015 16:17

Ashamed, dependent and pessimistic.

This is how Eric describes his self before when he was stricken by a poliomyelitis during his growing up years. While her four other siblings were living a normal life, Eric was struggling with his condition. He felt like he was constrained by his disability and so he confined himself to their home for many years.

“Ta tiene gat iyo huya antes sale na casa. No quierre iyo mira conmigo mga hente, kay como ta ri sila conmigo o ta tiene sila con migo lastima. So hinde gat yo ta sale na casa.” (I was too ashamed to leave our house before. I didn’t want people to see me because they might just laugh at me or pity me, that’s why I would never leave the house.) Eric opened up.

Eric Pioquinto, who was 17 then, was visited by social workers who also invited him to join the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center. Eric shared that he felt guilty how the social workers had to return to their house several times because he didn’t consider the offer of getting him enrolled in a rehabilitation center for PWDs.

“Mga sinco beses gaha kel sila ya bira kumigo. Bien determinado gat tamen sila. Yan encourage gat sila conmigo cay man join iyo aqui na AVRC. Amo kel, cuando ya bisita yo aqui, otro gat iyo ya sinti cuando ya mira ya iyo el otro mga PWDs. Como hinde yo kaya mira canila cay como ta mira yo de miyo cuerpo canila. So nohay gat yo sigi.” (The social workers had to come to our house for 5 times. They were very persistent. They encouraged me to join the AVRC. So when I tried visiting the center, I felt indifferent. I didn’t want to see the other PWDs like me because I could see myself in them. So I refused to join them.) Eric narrated.

While feeling trapped in the four corners of their house, Eric dreamt of looking for his self somewhere. He didn’t know what to do until his father encouraged him to consider enrolling at AVRC. And so Eric reluctantly entered AVRC. Slowly, he was able to adjust and accept his situation, realizing that there’s no reason for him to confine himself as there are people who understand them and are ready to accept them.

“Despues cuanto dia, ya accepta ya yo. Grande ayuda cae el maga social workers ta entende sila el di amun sitwasyon. Ta habla sila canamun cae hinde dapat tiene huya cae hente tamen kame, muchu lang kame syempre cosa puede hace maskin PWD kame.” (I eventually accepted my condition. The social workers were a big help because they understand our situation. They would tell us that we shouldn’t feel ashamed because we are still humans and that we are still capable to do many things despite our disability.)

In 2007, Eric was a full time enrollee in DSWD’s AVRC, particularly in commercial arts and crafts where they were trained to design and make different products such as bags, slippers, tissue holders, etc. After 9 months, Eric and other differently abled clients in the center graduated from courses such as computer technology, agriculture and therapeutic massage for the blinds, among others.

Immediately after graduating, Eric was absorbed by the department’s Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop Program, a non-residential business-work oriented facility that provides sheltered employment opportunities to PWDs.

“Una, hinde pa gat iyo bien hilig ese man tahi-tahi. Como yan enjoy lang gat iyo conele cay talya de mio mga barkada, pirmi kame huntu. Pero cuando ya conose iyo miyo mujer, ya pensa yo nesesita ya gat yo sen para hace bibi canila. So aquel, ya man seryoso ya iyo.” (At first it didn’t occur as a passion to me. I was just so happy that I got to be with my friends most of the time. Then when I met my wife, I felt like I really had to earn regularly for our family. That’s when I took my work seriously.) the twenty seven year old disclosed.

According to Eric, in every job order, he gets to earn around 3 to 4,000 pesos that has become their family’s primary source of living. This has given him the confidence and the ability to support his family financially.

“Grande ayuda gayot kumigo el Sheltered cay porcausa con este, ya puede yo hace bibi familia, gendeh yay o ta depende na demio mayors. Ya puede pa kame planta casa hinay-hinay.” (The Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop of DSWD is really a big help to me because I was able to support my own family that I no longer depend on my parents. I was even able to build our own house.) Eric proudly shared.

Along with economic independence, he has also been getting the respect from the people around him because of his optimism and determination to walk the extra mile.

Currently, the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center is training 54 clients in 10 different courses and there have been more or less 70 PWDs facilitated with employment, sustainable livelihood and entrepreneurial activities since 2014.