Gerard Ybanez looks up from his work desk. He stops soldering microchips in his outdoor electronics repair shop at his parents’ sprawling house on the road from Madredejos.
“I fix cellphones, TVs and sound equipment. I love sound equipment – and I love music.”
Gerard is 28 and twelve years ago he joined a home-based rehabilitation program run by a CBM-supported partner organisation in the Philippines. The program aimed to assist him with managing some of the challenges he was facing due to living with cerebral palsy.
“I remember that I learnt how to use a wheelchair through the program. I also remember doing exercises and improving my walking.”
After graduating from secondary school, Gerard attended a vocational centre for a year where he consolidated his electronics skill. He tells me that in the future he would like to become an electronics engineer. For now, Gerard runs a successful business from home and receives an income for his work.
When I ask Gerard what he believes are the lessons from his experience he says
“people like me should have equal opportunities – and that’s what I want to see in the future – so that all people with disabilities can use their full potential.”
His mother Lita adds:
“I have always supported him and I will not dictate his choices; it’s better if he decides and after all, he has the right to choose… I’ve learnt that as parents we should not deny kids their dreams but rather support them always.”
A client comes in to talk about a job and Gerard who describes himself as a ‘good talker’, like his mother, happily discusses the broken appliance. We say goodbye and Gerard gets back to work with his soldering iron.