In poor communities in the Philippines, CBM is supporting the establishment of small organisations that bring people together around disability issues. This includes both people with disability, and parents and relatives of those who need more intensive care.
Meet Marilyn and her daughter Angel, age 2. “Angel was born blind and this was confirmed by a doctor when she was 2 months”.
A year ago, CBM’s partner organisation starting getting things moving for people with disability. “A year ago, I attended a community assembly organized by the barangay [village] council and ERM invited all disabled people, and carers along. That started a change in my life”.
The CBM project has connected people with disability to the health services that they might need, but never dreamed that they could afford or access. Angel was referred to a specialist city hospital. “After some interventions and follow up, Angel is able respond to colors and figures if they are close to her. It’s like a miracle”. Further scans and support are planned, with a hope to improving her vision further.
As well as supporting people with disability to link to health care and rehabilitation, the project team is making sure that people get access to the Philippines Government disability ID card. “When we first started working in this village, only two people had the card”. Now we’ve helped 20 people get the card – just in this one small village. This is a service available to people, that they just don’t know about” explains the project’s community worker Raina. Holding the card means 20% off health care, medication, transport, and even restaurants. It makes a big difference.
CBM’s partner is now supporting the set up of a small village-level DPO. Marilyn is now the secretary of the group. The DPO is focused on orienting everyone about disability rights – including people with disability themselves. Formal registration of the DPO means they get a small annual grant from their village council. The group have used this years’ funds to renovate and repaint a room they’ve been given in the village community centre where they can meet.
Despite progress with the DPO and Angel’s health care, Marilyn still finds it stressful and challenging to be the mother of a visually impaired child. “I can’t get regular work because I can’t leave her with anyone else”. Though Marilyn has worries, she’s still very hopeful that one day Angel will improve her sight and can study and play like any other children.