Empowerment of Persons with Disability in Nueva Vizcaya
A small economic revolution is happening in the province of Nueva Vizcaya, waged by people society once shunned and marginalized.
More than 2,000 people have already benefited from a program the provincial government initiated to empower the physically disabled with skills and confidence.
Five years ago, a survey found at least 5,000 persons with disability in the province were uneducated, jobless and poor. Most did not have access to basic social services, suffered from poor health, and kept themselves away from others. Almost all were below the poverty threshold, each earning only P800 a month.
The provincial government organized them into a provincial federation. It believed that even persons with disability could succeed in livelihood projects and participate actively in local development.
With the aid of various government agencies, persons with disability have gained back their own self-respect and that of society.
By virtue of its accreditation with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the federation can now fight for its share of the province’s 20% Countrywide Development Fund, along with other sectors.
Disabled people are no longer mendicants at the fringes of society. They now own a canteen at the provincial capitol compound, run a massage parlor, serve as dressmakers and tailors, lease out boats and biking facilities. They even seed the lagoon with tilapia fingerlings that they can sell or cook.
While the program needs to reach more persons with disability, the federation’s initial success has improved the lives of its members.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2002 Galing Pook Awards.