"Come join us and celebrate the holiday with a group of people like you, are advocating for the rights of people with disability"Art called me days after the New Year.
For some unforseen reasons I was not able to meet this group of interestingpersonand break bread with them. Until a couple of weeks ago.
Art kept on inviting me to meetings and when I can I join them , Iwas introducedto the group calledMABINI(an acronym of a long name in Tagalog). The acronym is the surname of the Great Paralytic - one of our national heroApolinarioMabini, the thinker during the time of the revolution against the Spanish invasion but he cannot walk, he hasto becarried in ahammockall the time they are escaping because of Polio.
He inspired a lot of thinker in the country just like the group behind the project called 'Project Harmony'.
For a long time there has been debate on how the poorest of the poor sector - disability,can accessgovernment support with less challenge as it is now.
Philippines was firstto have it's disabilitylaw. Many laws in Asiawere patternedon what we had, the Republic Act 7277 but if you ask me how itis implementedthat remainsto beseen because the provisions of the law have not been weaved in the systems of the government. All are talks without so much to show for it.
I don't say nothinghas been done, there are many development. Progresshas been recordedbut it's not enough. Like I saidits notweaved in therefore whoever sit next systems gets changed or forgotten. That is why the struggle of the disability sector in the Philippines is still a long tedious struggle with no light at the end of a very long tunnel yet. More needsto bedone.
That is why when I fully understood what Project Harmony is I have to say Iam impressedwith thisMABINIgroup for thinking out of the box and do something impressive -- it trying to marry two institution in the region where I live.
The Department of Social Welfareis supposedto take care of the marginalized sector but the institution is full of "old stubborn people" literally and figuratively that theylosetrack that life changes outside the four corners of the their room. The people I met so far are so "ancient" thinking --
- they still believe that without them people with disability cannot do anything,
- some maybe thinking they are still a group ofpeople whoneeds charityand
None of them fully understood what disabilityis even if the woman in charge of training kept telling me there are curriculum and materials made for the department blah! blah!
It pains me to think that in my country the mentality ofpeople are so "antiquated" when it comes to disability. No wonder, only few are given opportunity and a whole bunch more are hidden. The country only had 1.23 percent disabled from last census in 2010 compared to the global standard of 15 percent according to WHO. And to think that ina population of100 million Filipino, 1.23 percent is very small compared to other Asian country and yet we cannotgive"decency" for them to uplift their standard of living and status in the society.
Anyway, going back to Project Harmony. I met a dentist in wheelchair, she's Dr. Jeanna and she's a very good advocate. She made progress in her own community but like many organization, hers took over 4 years to get noticed and be given what is due to them (with much reservations). With the other members, they are trying to getDSWDin our region to work together by being transparent and by setting examples on how negotiations and working togethershould bedone.
The regionalDSWDis cooperating, thank God for good people in government services. AndMABINIgroup is trying hard to get the people with disability in region4Aget in line and work together to show the partners that the disability sector indeed does not need charity but rather an opportunity like everyone on earth deserve.
If the government and otherinstitutionsaid they will help change the lives of people with disability, make sure that they do it together with them because believe me these are very capable people, better than me and maybe even better than you.
As Ialwayssay and I really believe in thematrathat"Nothing About Us Without Us"is the way to go towards making true development happen in the disability sector and beyond.
I am glad I finally met the people behind the Project Harmony. Thesepeople whocompose theMABINIgroup, they are laudable because in spite of the challenge they neverlosehope that eventually the system will work in their favor.
And who are we to doubt them and help.