Outreach Caravan Reaches Marginalized Persons with Disabilities in Hinterland Villages

A PWD is being assisted and accompanied by members of the rescue team during the Outreach Caravan in Barangay Mikit, Baganga.

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Differently-abled persons residing in six hinterlands villages here have availed of much-needed government services through the Provincial Government’s regular program called Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental Barangay Outreach Caravan.

Aside from catering to the general population, the five-day caravan held on October 16 to 20 in far-flung villages of Caraga and Baganga towns also catered to Persons with Disability (PWD) who are among the most seldom reached by opportunities and government services.

Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) Focal Person Hector Acebo said that they have catered at least 49 PWDs in the villages of PM Sobrecarey and Palma Gil in Caraga town and the villages of Binondo, Mahan-ub, Mikit, and Campawan in Baganga town.

A PWD in Barangay Mikit in Baganga is being subjected to a disability assessment in order for her to get a PWD identification card. Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) Focal Person Hector Acebo facilitate the assessment.

Beneficiaries received wide-ranging services including handover of free assistive devices such as canes and crutches, medical checkup, and medicines, among others. PWDs who are not yet officially registered as a PWD were subjected to a disability assessment in order for them to get a PWD identification card.

With the PWD card issued by the Municipal Social Welfare Office, PWDs are entitled to avail of benefits, particularly 20 percent discount for medicines, medical services, and at the restaurants and recreational facilities.

A PWD receives his identification card which makes him eligible to avail of benefits for PWDs.

In the province, there are currently around 7,400 PWDs identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the Department of Health. However, only 4,000 of them have a PWD ID. The PDAO targets to reach at least 2,500 disabled persons to be issued with IDs within the year.

PWDs are considered to be among the most marginalized sector of the society. They include those with long-term impairment on visual, hearing, and speech, physical disability, psychiatric disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy; and persons with autism, among others.

A patient with visual impairment undergoes a medical checkup.

PWD beneficiaries and their families during the caravan have expressed their overwhelming thanks to the government for its efforts to address their simple and most basic needs.

Forty-eight-year-old Benancio Alameda, who has a congenital orthopedic disability that caused deformity on his left leg, said he is happy that government services were brought to his village since mobility is a big challenge especially for those like him with disability. He said the caravan is an effective venue for government agencies to reach disabled people in the hinterlands.

Braving the sweltering heat of the sun without a companion, Alameda walked the pot-holed road down to the site of the caravan one kilometer away from his home just to avail of government services being offered. Walking with one crutch, he said he has already grown accustomed to the task. Farming a half-hectare land planted mostly to corn while tending pigs and poultry, Alameda who lives alone relies solely on himself for support.

However, not all PWDs have as much independence. According to the PDAO, there are scores of disabled persons, especially those with multiple and severe disabilities living in very remote areas here. Some of them are totally dependent on their caregivers.

Because of these disabilities, many of them are unable to get access to education or get opportunities for livelihood, which pushes them and their families further into the clutches of poverty.

The government through the DWSD plans to implement by next year the Sustainable Livelihood Project intended for the PWD sector. Those who are enrolled in the project will be given livelihood assistance, in the form of training or financial aid, empowering them to earn income at the safe confines of their homes, said Acebo.

To date, there are scores of livelihood interventions that are being implemented by the province for PWDs. These include the enrollment of visually impaired persons to the Technical Education Skills Development Authority’s short-course massage and beauty care training. The Provincial Governor’s Office is also providing financial support to some PWDs in the hinterland villages of Caraga town in making and selling high-quality handicrafts made from Mandaya indigenous materials. Receiving excellent feedback in tourism exhibits, these handmade products now holds the potential of being marketed locally and abroad.

For the next conduct of the Outreach Caravan, the PDAO plans to join other agencies in conducting information campaign to educate PWDs and the members of the community about the rights and fundamental freedoms for persons with disabilities while focusing on helping the most vulnerable among them.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who initiated the NLD Outreach Caravan, said he will continue to push for inclusive governance wherein all sectors are reached, especially the PWD sector.

He said that this particular sector, consisting of diverse groups of individuals if, given the right opportunity, proper education and training can have a lot of potential for productivity. “Empowering them to become dignified, productive and self-sustaining individuals is our way of promoting equality and recognizing their participation in the society,” he said. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan

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