In line with its goal to promote broad-based and inclusive growth in the Philippines, the US Embassy in Manila, through the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) in partnership with the Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative (BBMC), held “Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Day” in SM City Fairview, Quezon City on May 7.
This came as part of the program of a Job-Trade-Scholarship Fair that featured over 50 exhibit booths from various government agencies, business establishments, development partners and charitable organizations.
Supported by the Department of Labor and Employment, the office of 2nd District of Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, SM Cares and the Diocese of Novaliches, the event provided assistance and services to PWDs to increase their prospects for employment or readiness to start their own income-generating activities.
Usaid-Philippines Deputy Mission Director Reed Aeschliman said, “The US government is pleased to work with other PWD champions in providing opportunities for PWDs to gain economic rights and become productive members of the community.”
The event was part of Usaid’s P12.8 million “Support the Employment and Livelihood of Persons with Disabilities” project, which aims to reduce poverty and exclusion of PWD in the Philippines through improved access to gainful employment and livelihood opportunities.
The PWD Day was capped with the awarding of the “Opportunities Fund” to five self-help groups and 10 PWDs. The fund supports PWDs in jumpstarting and expanding their respective income generating activities.
Ricardo Baticos is one of the 10 PWDs awardees. Baticos used to work as a construction worker to support his three children until he met an unfortunate accident. Despite his disability, he continued to look for alternative sources of income and ventured in the “Kalan”-making (biomass cooking stoves) business. USAID’s “Opportunities Fund” will help support the expansion of Baticos’ business.
“Hindi lamang trabaho para kumita ang nais ng may kapansanan, kundi dignidad at magkaroon ng kabuluhan sa buhay [PWDs want to be respected and make sense of their lives, hence their desire to work and be active contributors to the society],” Richard Arceno of BBMC said.
“We need to work alongside PWDs to help improve their lives and respect their right to work and their right to choose their work. For growth to be truly inclusive, education, job and livelihood opportunities should be made available to everyone, including persons with disabilities,” Deputy Director Aeschliman added.