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Getting by with God’s grace

By Johannes L. Chua

Everyone is affected by this pandemic, some worse than the others. This rings true, especially to those who are “vulnerable” members of society—the senior citizens, the solo parent, the nursing mom, the persons with disability or PWDs. If times were tough a few months ago for them, then this time—and the coming “new normal”—is tougher.

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But if there are positive signs that emerged during this pandemic season, then these were the stories of empathy and bayanihan, how individuals and communities have banded together for a common cause—battling an invisible virus, while giving time, talent, and treasures to those who need it most.

The more than a hundred PWDs currently quarantined at the headquarters of the Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. (TWHI) in Cainta, Rizal, are facing a grim reality, but with help from various individuals and groups (and God’s graces), they are getting by, praying that they overcome this tremendous challenge very soon.

“It’s more than a month already since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took effect. It is a challenging time for us because we have to adjust financially and emotionally. The first week was all right, but the second, third, and then the extension of the ECQ are becoming unbearable for most of us,” says Ramon Rey Emmanuel Apilado, administrative manager of TWHI.

Apilado tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that they are currently locked inside the premises of the TWHI due to the ECQ. They also decided against entertaining visits from people outside as majority of the residents and staff are PWDs or have existing ailments that make them extra vulnerable to the virus.

“We are coping with the ECQ on a day-to-day basis. We cannot totally rely on the local government unit (LGU) because it cannot give relief goods on a regular basis. It is a good thing that there are individuals and companies from the private sector that have offered help by giving us food, supplies, and other things that our residents need,” he says.

TWHI, a non-government organization, provides services and a home for PWDs for more than four decades. It has an extensive program for PWDs, empowering them by providing livelihood opportunities through workshops such as metalcraft, woodcraft, and sewing, and by providing training and educational assistance. PWDs who are abandoned or do not have anywhere to go are also housed by TWHI. Sad to say, this pandemic affected them so much that its income-generating ventures (e.g. selling items created by the PWDs) are currently on hold, thus, the need for assistance.

“Since the temporary closure of TWHI, the PWDs and employees of the organization are terribly affected. No work means no compensation, which means it would be difficult for us to support ourselves and our families who are counting on us for sustenance,” says Apilado.

‘The crisis we are facing is tough. All of us are affected by it. All are equal—rich or poor. We have to endure until this is over. Above all, we are always praying that this virus will finally come to its end and mankind shall come to the realization that life is short and we have to value it.’

He explains that among the items they need includes LPG to cook with, maintenance medications for PWDs with pre-existing ailments like diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc. They also need hygiene kits, laundry soaps, cleaning disinfectants, alcohol, multivitamins to boost the immune system, and “vegetables as we cannot eat canned goods all the time because these are unhealthy.”

“The crisis we are facing is tough. All of us are affected by it. All are equal—rich or poor. We have to endure until this is over. Above all, we are always praying that this virus will finally come to its end and mankind shall come to the realization that life is short and we have to value it,” he says.

In crisis, they are not losing hope. They continue to be productive and exercise to be healthy, such as Apilado who is also a PWD and a para-athlete himself. A member of the Philippine Boccia Team, he practices boccia in preparation for the Para ASEAN Games, which was postponed to a later date. Boccia is a ball sport similar to bowling played on a wheelchair on a flat smooth court. There are also movie sessions to ease boredom and there are group prayers of the Holy Rosary at 6 p.m. every day for spiritual guidance. He also takes comfort that there is continuous support from Good Samaritans, even anonymous donors who show mankind’s greatest asset—humanity.

“We hope that these people who are sharing their blessings with us continue what they are doing. May they also help our colleagues who are PWDs living outside (the compound) as they are also affected by this crisis,” Apilado says. “Without these generous and emphatic donors, it will be very hard to survive.”

In turn, this also encouraged TWHI to share its blessings, knowing how hard the situation is for a lot of Filipino families. “Whatever we have in excess, we try to extend the blessings that we receive to our PWD colleagues and their families, so that at least they could live without worry, even for a day or two.”

For those who want to help TWHI, they can be reached at email: mon_apilado_twh@yahoo.com.ph or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/twhi.cainta. Drop off donations at 175 Aida Street, Marick Subdivision, Sto. Domingo, Cainta, Rizal.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/30/getting-by-with-gods-grace/)

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