A better life for PWDs through ‘Kabuhayan’ Print
Sunday, 21 July 2013 14:25

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are often overlooked, neglected and deprived of their needs by society and many times denied involvement in decision-making that affects their very existence.

But this deplorable situation is uncommon in this municipality situated in the southern part of Zamboanga del Sur. PWDs in Lapuyan town, predominantly inhabited by Subanens, are given access to livelihood by the local government.

LGU/DSWD Support

It was in 2011 that Mayor Daylinda Sulong established a livelihood project for PWDs dubbed “Kabuhayan.” The mayor chose a retired teacher, Josefina Semini to become the “Kabuhayan” project coordinator. With an initial funding of P100,000 the project sought to improve the well-being of PWDs starting with only 13 members.

At the inception of the project, it was Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center (AVRC) superintendent Fatima Caminan of DSWD in Zamboanga City who introduced the idea of providing free skills training for PWDs.

Skills Training

Five PWDs were brought to the Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center III of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Zamboanga City for a free one year to six months skills training while their transportation and accommodation were shouldered by the LGU. They were trained as masseur, tailor, barber, carpenter, and other skills.

Semini said with a job to do, they feel important and are able to eventually become independent.

Daylinda established a livelihood center called Lapuyan Kabuhayan Center: The Home for the Disadvantaged and Vulnerable Sectors. The building which is patterned after DSWD’s AVRC III became the home for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of the municipality.

“This will be their home where they will enhance their skills to be more productive, and eventually gain employment thereby becoming good citizens of the community,” Sulong announced.

“She designed and implemented livelihood programs and activities in order to promote access, inclusion and the full participation of persons with disabilities in our municipality. The project provides help to PWDs to live a normal life,” she added.

“We encouraged them to hone their skills for them to become productive, self-sufficient, and to live fruitful lives. They don’t need our pity, they need our love and encouragement,” said Semini quoting mayor Sulong.

The LGU’s support was observed by the agency which prompted AVRC Superintendent Fatima Caminan to visit the municipality and proposed employment opportunities for the PWDs which was then approved by the chief executive.

Employment opportunities

Thirty-one year-old Jezrel Langhay of Waterfall, Lapuyan said no one would ever thought that despite their handicap, there are still kind-hearted people who care and offer new hope for them.

“Nagpasalamat ko ug dako sa administrasyon ni Mayor Sulong ug sa DSWD nga ila kaming gitabangan nga mga disabled persons makapangita ug trabaho. Wala mi magdahum nga bisan pa sa kakulian sa among panglawas adunay mga manggiloy-on nga mga tawo nga nag-amuma ug naghatag bag-ong paglaum kanamo. (I am deeply grateful that the administration of Mayor Sulong and the DSWD helped us, disabled persons in looking for a job. We did not expect that despite our handicap, there are still kind-hearted people who care and offer new hope for us),” said Langhay, the eldest in a family of six.

Dako ang akong kalipay tungod kay nakatabang ako sa akong pamilya. Ang akong kita isip mananahi gihatag nako sa akong ginikanan aron mapalit namo ug pagkaon. Sa una, masulob-on ako tungod kay anaa ra man ko sulod sa balay ug walay trabaho ug karon duna na ako’y trabaho (I am very happy because I was able to help my family. I give my earnings as a tailor to my parents so we could buy food for the family. I used to be sad because I only stay in the house, jobless and with nothing to do, but now, I already have a job),” Langhay happily said.

Semini said PWDs are now receiving P2,000 to 3,000 each from DSWD as incentives.

“There are many programs available for all sorts of disabilities in our municipality,” Semini said . If they are encouraged and learn to believe in themselves, there is no reason they will not flourish.

“With a job to do, they feel important and eventually become productive and independent,” Semini concluded.