Working Together: Patrick and Lidel

Stories | May 10, 2022

Each month, CBM Australia takes a look behind the scenes at our employees who are devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the poorest places on earth.

This month we talk to Patrick Makenen, based with the CBM Australia team in Melbourne, and Lidel Bongon in CBM’s office in the Philippines. This is their story.

Tell us about how you work together.

Lidel: I work as a Program Officer with CBM in the Philippines. CBM Australia supports us on projects to improve eye health, and we work with families who have children with disabilities. We also support work with local communities to make sure that people with disability are included in emergency responses when disasters strike. You know, people with disability are 5 times more likely to die in a disaster than people without a disability.

Patrick: We have a pretty close relationship, speaking over video and emails almost every week. In early 2020 we travelled together to some of the more remote parts of the Philippines visiting various communities that CBM had supported. I wanted to see firsthand the impact of our work.

What were your impressions when you travelled together in the Philippines?

Lidel: In early 2020, just before Covid hit, Patrick and I visited some of our projects in Bantayan.  We visited families who had children with severe disabilities. It was really amazing to see how our partner was working with those families, and the parents related how their children’s situation improved with the home-based rehabilitation that they were being trained in.

We were really impressed with the improvements that had been made to local schools to make them more accessible for kids with disability.

Patrick: one of the things that really stood out for me was going to one of the hospitals and seeing the cataract surgery of a father first-hand.

Lidel: Oh yes! It was a first time for me too to see a cataract surgery. That day Patrick had travelled from one of the other provinces where he’d been visiting another project, and we met at the eye hospital, and then we got to see the surgery first-hand.   

Patrick:  I didn’t realise when we got there that I was going straight into the operating room. I put on the surgical gown and then I walked in and saw somebody getting eye surgery right in front of me. I was worn out from the road trip, and I was really hot, and suddenly I found myself in a surgery- I tell you what, I was feeling pretty dizzy.

Lidel: I thought he was gonna pass out!

So what were your impressions?

Patrick: It was amazing, I had never really understood how the procedure is done, and I was able to talk with the surgeon, and then I chatted with the man’s family who was waiting outside.

Lidel: You could see what a huge difference the surgery was going to make – not only for the person being operated on – but for his whole family, in that he  would be getting his sight back- and could be more active again.

What do you value about working with Patrick?

Lidel: Patrick has been a really great guide and mentor for me. He’s the real key, between our work here in the Philippines and our supporters over in Australia.

What is it about Lidel that you value?

Patrick: We talk a lot, and I have a lot of trust in Lidel, all of the work that she does makes a real difference. She comes back from visiting projects and she keeps me updated- but she also tells me all the funny stories as well. Over the past two years we’ve really collaborated closely on the projects, even though I haven’t been able to travel.

Lidel: It’s not hard to work with Patrick. It’s easy to open up and talk about some of the challenges. He’s really good to work with.


Thank you Patrick and Lidel

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