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No one is left behind in Malabon—especially the PWDs

 

 

By Johannes L. Chua

The challenges that local government units (LGUs) will face will be more enormous as the enhanced community quarantine has been extended. The support of each citizen—from staying at home, practicing social distancing, to assisting the frontliners—is needed in this time of uncertainty, which becomes more uncertain, especially among the economically challenged sectors of society.

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Everyone is affected by the crisis, more so for people who were already “challenged” even prior to the community quarantine. They are the elderly, the solo parents, and differently-abled persons (PWDs).  In Malabon City, however, the PWDs are not left behind. In fact, all 3,000 of them have received some form of relief from the LGU, courtesy of an effort led by 29-year-old Archie Jade Añora.

Añora is currently a staff member at the Public Information Office (PIO) of the Malabon LGU and a journalism graduating student from the City of Malabon University (CMU). Previously, he was a PWD coordinator of the city’s Community and Urban Poor Affairs Office (CUPAO). He cherishes his role as a PWD advocate because he himself understands the challenge of the differently-abled. He is blind in his right eye.

BRINGING RELIEF Archie Anora shows the relief packs that will be given to PWD beneficiaries.

BRINGING RELIEF Archie Anora shows the relief packs that will be given to PWD beneficiaries.

A few years ago, he founded the United Persons With Disability of Malabon (UPWDM) to unite differently-abled residents in city’s 21 barangays. Eventually, they joined with another group, Gabay ng mga may Kapansanan sa Malabon (Gabay), to form the PWD Federation of Malabon City.

Ngayong panahon, ang lahat ay naaapektuhan. Sa aking pagkamusta sa mga miyembro, mas hirap sila ngayon. Matindi ang kanilang pangangailangan (At this time, everyone is affected. When I check in on our members, I find they are having a harder time. Their needs [for relief] are urgent),” says Añora.

He personally visited some of the members’ homes to check their living condition.

“Nalaman ko na labis silang na-apektuhan dahil ang mga taong dapat na sumuporta sa kanila ay nawalan din ng hanapbuhay (I found out that they [PWDs] were very much affected because the people who were supporting them also lost their livelihood).”

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This dire situation at the start of the quarantine prompted Añora to move. Through the group, he started to ask for donations for a relief drive.

The response of the Malabonian community surprises Añora. Even amid hard times, people donate money, goods, and whatever they can. His friend, Kevin Yap, also helped him gather donations.

“I was able to gather 50 sacks of rice, canned goods, and tuyo,” he says. “Not enough, however, as we have thousands of members all over the city.”

Añora remembers vividly that it was serendipity that he was able to talk to Malabon Mayor Lenlen Oreta.

“The mayor saw that we were repacking some items. He asked who the recipients would be. I told him that it was for the differently-abled,” Añora says. “Nilakasan ko na lang loob ko na magsabi sa kanya na kulang pa iyon at gusto ko pa mabigyan ang lahat na 3,000 na PWD sa buong Malabon (I gathered my courage to tell him that the relief goods were not enough and that I wanted to give all the 3,000 PWDs in the entire Malabon).”

The mayor did not promise anything so Añora thought that the grant of his request was just wishful thinking, but relief packs arrived the next day.

“We were all so touched with the gesture that the mayor considered the welfare of the differently-abled Malabonians,” says Añora. “A lot of people may not be aware of this, but the mayor sent 3,315 relief packs. I can attest and truly say that there is no differently-abled person left behind in Malabon—even one.”

As his group, led by UPWDM president Rolando Sarmiento, goes around Malabon’s barangays to give relief to the differently-abled, Añora is heartened by the fact that the residents appreciate the gesture. He personally saw the delight and gratitude in the eyes of the families who were grateful that there are people concerned with the vulnerable members of society. He was able to visit all the barangays (following social distancing and observing safety measures) and was allowed by his superiors at the PIO (officer-in-charge Rosa Maria Cruz and public information officer Bong Padua) to continue his mission to reach out.  He also coordinated with the City Social Welfare and Development Department (CSWDD) who is in charge of PWD affairs.

Añora is aware there are more challenges coming, but he is ready. He knows there are people he can count on who will support his group’s advocacy.

“I remember the Lord’s words in Matthew 25:40…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” says Añora, who at 16 was a pedicab driver and at 18 was a janitor in a gym, until he became a part-time gym instructor and mixed martial arts fighter. “And doing this for our brothers and sisters who are differently-abled is also my way of giving back for all the blessings I’ve received in life.”



Source: Manila Bulletin ( https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/13/no-one-is-left-behind-in-malabon-especially-the-pwds/)

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