Tag Archives: Germany

Michael Fuentespina: the hearing-impaired medic

In a dinner held in held in Etobicoke, Ontario, a member of the Canadian Army and Recipient of the order of Military Merit by the Canadian Government has delivered the 2018 Apolinario Mabini Memorial Lecture of the Dinner of Hope.

He is Chief Warrant Officer Michael Fuentespina, a medic of the Canadian Armed Forces Health Services Group of the Royal Canadian Air Force deployed in Afghanistan. He has served in seven countries (Norway, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States, Afghanistan, and Bosnia) and received the NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, Canadian Decoration, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, General Campaign Star – Afghanistan, and the Member of the Order of Military Merit. He has also participated in the 2016 Invictus Games held in Florida and in the 2017 Invictus Games held in Toronto as a member of Team Canada for the Men’s Road Cycling.

But the Makati native who just moved to Winnipeg when he was two years old has followed a bomb attack during his “tour of duty” as a member of the Counter-IED’s Advisory Response Team during the War in Afghanistan in 2008. He lost his hearing then and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) nine years after.

“When I witnessed the death and destruction in Afghanistan, I realized that there is that very real possibility that I may not come back or may be grievously injured and, at the same time, I saw what Canada was doing to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves – it was then that this job which became a profession has now transitioned into a calling,” he was quoted saying in a report.

To date, Officer Fuentespina is assigned in Ottawa as advisor for all Reserve Medical non-commissioned members of the CAF responsible for the development and implementation of policies related to professional development, training and education.

 “Disability or not, we live in a great country that provides endless opportunities if you go out and seek them. Just strive to do your best in an ethical manner and great opportunities will come to you.” ~ Michael Fuentespina

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Michael Chow

What Lea Sicat Reyes has said

In her column “Insight Avenue,” Lea Sicat Reyes has asked how can disability intervention in the Philippines become accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country with limited resources and what should be done about it.

Countries like Vietnam, Togo, and India have successful programs in place that cater to children who live with visual and hearing impairments and other physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities,” she noted after mentioning the countries with similar context to the Philippines but have effectively addressed disability- related concerns.

“The Philippines can definitely gain valuable insights from their common practices,” she added.

So Reyes suggested pursuing partnerships between the government and civic groups that have the capacity to empower stakeholders. The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), for instance, has initiated a program in Vietnam that would “provide an integrated effort to teach deaf children sign language at a very young age, helping them to get ready to learn when they enter formal primary school.” It also funded a program on inclusive education for the PWDs in Malawi which “tests innovative methods to raise enrolment among children with disabilities who are not in mainstream schools and also supports the development of an inclusive education policy.”

Throughout the country, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the LAJ Philippines- LEGO funded the creation of the National Centers for Children with Disabilities in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Reyes noted, too, that a community-based approach where intervention is concerned is both practical and sustainable. Parents and families must then have a working understanding of their children’s intervention program. The disability-related concerns in the Global South1 should be studied more since “resources are readily available and systems are already in place to provide maximum support for children with disabilities” in the Global North2.

“We can no longer overlook the need to address the plight of children with disabilities in the Philippines. If we continue to allow these to fester, more and more children will be deprived of a chance to have a better quality of life. The time to act is now.” ~ Lea Sicat Reyes

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of unicefphilippines

1The Global South refers “Third World” (i.e., Africa, Latin America, and the developing countries in Asia), “developing countries,” “less developed countries,” and “less developed regions.”

2The Global North is home to all the members of the G8 (United States of America, Japan, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France) and to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

In the Face of Calamities

Children with disabilities in the Philippines—there are 5.1 million of them to date—are the most vulnerable if there happen to be a calamity or an emergency in the country. They wouldn’t be able to flee; around 1.5 million need assistive devices. They wouldn’t be able to go back to school immediately and they wouldn’t be able to subsist in the sanitation conditions in evacuation centers.1

So, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Department of Science and Technology, proposed to carry out continuing education and preparation on disaster management in all levels especially those in the most vulnerable groups. He encouraged developing “disaster imagination” to bring about people’s resolve to prepare for any disaster and “disaster preparedness” as a way a life for every Filipino.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council–Office of Civil Defense also endorsed “Lahat Handa,” a training manual that promotes the rights and capacities of children, youth, older people and PWDS.

The ramifications of a typhoon, flood, or fire may linger, said Alex Ghenis of the Berkeley, California-based World Institute on Disability. These may disrupt access to caregivers, assistive devices and medical supplies. A person with a mobility impairment might be less able to escape a storm on their own while a person with a visual or hearing impairment might not receive appropriate evacuation notices. PWDs, therefore, even they have mostly been ignored in scientific literature and policy, will be the most vulnerable during calamities because of falling buildings and environmental pollution.

Good thing, someone has thought of sign language gestures for words like typhoon, storm surge and signal numbers in 2013. Some waterside villages in Tacloban have also planned to raise flags and made announcements over megaphones to alert the deaf and the visually impaired, respectively.

The PWD Forum also hopes that closed captioning will be added to television broadcasts soon. For, as of now, research director Perpi Tiongson of the Oscar M. Lopez Center in Manila has observed that the standard version of Filipino sign language isn’t required to be taught at schools for the deaf yet.

“Some of the children with disabilities wouldn’t be able to duck, cover and hold under tables, so they should identify the safest area in the room, where no debris would fall on them. If they use wheelchairs, they should fix it to ensure stability, and everyone should be informed of their buildings’ respective evacuation routes. They should also pinpoint the safe parts of a building in case of an earthquake.” ~ Dr. Renato Solidum Jr.

1This was noted by Lotta Sylwander, country representative of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), during the “Emergency Preparedness Forum for Children and Youth with Disabilities.”

2Typhoons could form if the temperature is above 280C (82.40F).

3The figure was from a report of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Notes:

  • Among of the natural disasters that had happened in the Philippines are the Bohol earthquake, (October 15, 2013), Typhoon Bopha (December 3, 2012), Pantukan landslide (January 5, 2012), Tropical Storm Washi (December 2011), Typhoon Fengshen (June 20-23, 2008), Tropical Cyclone Durian (November 25, 2006), Guinsaugon landslide (February 17, 2006), and Tropical Depression Winnie (November 2004).
  • The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas headed by Melissa Banias of the Capability Building Section has trained more or less 700 individuals from the 14 vulnerable or basic sectors that were identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on the Philippine DRRM system, different kinds of natural and human-induced hazards, and DRRM applications. They are composed of volunteer groups, persons with disability, farmers, fisherfolk, rebel returnees, and Indigenous Peoples (IP), among others.
  • The Philippines is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, landslides, storms, cyclones, and depressions simply because it is located just above the equator, where the country faces the western Pacific waters with 280C (82.40F) temperature2. Its hillsides are denuded of forests and it rests on the so-called volcano Ring of Fire.

A lot of Filipinos live on coastal islands, too. The Super Typhoon Haiyan reached 23 feet (7 meters) upon its surge. It rolled over the low-lying parts of Leyte, causing death to more than 10,000 people3.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Edison Jared

UPDATE (October 2, 2018): On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost every year in the Philippines, with typhoons accounting for 74 percent of the fatalities, 62 percent of the total damages, and 70 percent of agricultural damages, according to the World Bank.

Source: GMA News Online

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham

Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo

Moved by the Second National Congress for the Disabled Persons, some residents in Jaro, Iloilo established the Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo, Incorporated (ADP-II) in 1990.

Its members has grown to 800 since then to “integrate persons with disabilities (PWDs) into mainstream of society” in collaboration with local government units, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), private sectors, non-government organizations (NGOs), and other disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in municipalities.

ADP-II has been empowering the different PWD organizations in the 43 local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo. Its services aim to embolden even the children in the region in support of the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Lilliane Stitching Funds (SLF), Association Soeur Emmanuelle (ASMAE), and Commission on Population (POPCOM).

The CBM, SLF, ASMAE, and POPCOM are NGOs in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the Philippines respectively.

ADP-II has also initiated some income-generating programs such as the May ‘K’ Park, a restaurant that is the first and the longest running business of the association since 1993; comfort rooms and case-by-case cards, which is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); and prosthesis making.

In 2002, ADP-II has formed the ADPI Multi-purpose Cooperative (ADPIMPC), which provided livelihood and promoted technologies that facilitate mobility to its members. It has also assisted during the relief operations after the devastation of typhoons Frank and Yolanda as well in putting up the Aging and Disability Focal Point (ADFP) in Estancia and Concepcion.

Currently, ADP-II keeps the radio program “K-Forum,” which is aired in the GMA Network, a media company in the Philippines, every Sundays at 2:00-3:00 p.m. It also maintains a website, an email, and a social networking account.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Tomotatsu Gima

Acknowledgments: Bob Flores and May