Tag Archives: United Kingdom

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

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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.

On PADS-Cebu

During the 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival held at Pier 10 of the Central Harbour in Hong Kong, the PADS Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team won in the 400-meter standard boat international paradragon division. It topped during the first heat of the race at 1:35 and during the second heat at 1:33.913.

The team bested 160 other teams consisting of 4,500 athletes from all over the world to rule the event for the second year in a row. The second place went to Hong Kong’s Golden Eagle while the third place went to Taiwan’s NAAC Top Brilliances Dragon Boat Team.

It wasn’t the first time the Philippine Accessibility Disability Services (PADS) brought victory to the country in dragon boat racing. The team, which was headed by JP Ecarma Maunes, is composed of 14 men and four women that are either blind, deaf, or amputees. In June 5, 2017, it already competed in the said carnival against teams from Hong Kong, United Kingdom, and Singapore. It won in the final round by seven seconds.

Like other organizations dedicated to PWDs, PADS aims to “enable the PWD community to grow and develop as independent, integrated, fully human and empowered citizens in society” through promoting social inclusion and human rights of PWDs. It has succeeded to (1) increase the participation of the PWD in Filipino electoral and governance processes, (2) educate communities on PWD human rights, and (3) develop opportunities to promote Filipino Sign Language 12 years after it has started.

“We dedicate this victory to the plight of thousands of Filipinos with disabilities. We also want to dedicate this triumph to the Filipinos in Hong Kong who took care of the needs of the team, took a stand to leave their day jobs, and cheered side by side with the team. May this win uplift their hearts and national pride.” ~ PADS

Notes:

  1. The 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival happened last June 22 to 24. It was organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association.
  2. The other teams include those from Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, Macau and Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, and the United States.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of MyTV Cebu

UPDATE (August 26, 2018): The Cebu-based Philippine Accessible Disability Services (Pads) Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team have been recommended by the City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission to be this year’s recipient of the Modern Day Hero Award.

A Measuring Body?

Till now, The PWD Forum cannot find a country where persons with disabilities (PWDs) will be absolutely safe and sound.

It cannot be in the United States of America where The PWD Forum has 212 viewers. Chairman Sachin Pavithran of the U.S. Access Board and the disability policy analyst in the Utah State University still sees “misguided sympathy” and “warped forms of discrimination” 25 years after the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed.

It cannot be in Canada where The PWD Forum has 36 viewers. Even with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, columnist and public health reporter Andre Picard of The Globe and Mail observes that “we continue to treat inclusion of people with disabilities as a privilege rather than a right.”

It cannot be in the United Kingdom where The PWD Forum has 18 viewers. The digital news and views service CommonSpace has reported that the government has cut disability job support by 40% following controversies over the social security sanctions regime.

But then, nothing is absolute. The PWD Forum just hopes that it could convince its readers to act on the social problem physical disability has come to be.

“Discrimination occurs when, for some unfounded reason, those with disabilities are labeled as having “special” needs that are assumed to be better met at “special” schools.” ~ Sachin Pavithran

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Charlestown Middle School

Shaun Webster: the believer

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neither scroungers nor superheroes, a 43-year-old man in Rotherham, South Yorkshire maintains.

His name is Shaun Webster, the international project worker of Change, a human rights organization led by PWDs. He has visited the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Moldova to train health- and social care professionals on ‘de-institutionalisation’, community living, and community-based care.

With a learning disability himself, Webster has called for the closure of long-stay institutions for young people with learning disabilities through Lumos, a children’s charity founded by JK Rowling.

“They’re doing it faster in Europe, building small group homes and getting people into the community, here they’re dragging their feet, still putting money into care homes. Other countries are less scared, ready to work with people with learning disabilities,” Webster was quoted in a report.

Webster also believes that PWDs, which number about to 1.4 in the United Kingdom, should be more visible in communities ‘to challenge the status quo’. Politicians must be engaged, and a political party of PWDs ‘might be an idea to get our voice across to government because we’re the experts in real life.’

To date, Webster would champion ‘the fact that people with learning disabilities can, should, and do have the same “real life” as everyone else, with a job, home and family life’. He had three children with his childhood sweetheart before they separated. He is now a grandfather of two toddlers and lives in a community-based supported housing.

“It’s starting,” he says, “but we need to make it louder … people want to have proper jobs, to live in the community and not be vulnerable or patronised.” ~ Shaun Webster

Video posted with permission from lumoscharity

Sign Language in the UAE

Since last year, Feras and Wael Al Moubayed have been giving people in the UAE a chance to learn sign language for free.

It has been pretty successful that the Kuwaiti brothers, who had their studies in the United Kingdom, wish to start a sign language school that will benefit the hearing-impaired. The project—the Al Ayady School—will expand from the UAE to Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Egypt.

Not being able to hear has been an experience for Feras and Wael since they were small. Feras has lost his hearing when he was 2 years old, while Wael has lost his when he was just six months old.

The method used in speaking through hand movements and gestures varies from country to country, though. The Al Ayady School will teach British Sign Language (BSL).

In the neighboring regions, a customized lorry would stop to engage the deaf community. The campaign—Hear Us Sign—aims to raise awareness about the importance of sign language and to help integrate those with hearing disabilities into society.

Bedour Al Raqbani, director and founder of the Kalimati Speech Communication Centre in Mirdif thought of it after failing to find ‘suitable care’ for her hearing-impaired daughter, Noora Al Kaabi, four years ago.

It had gone on for 10 days and had served as a ‘curtain raiser’ to the two-day conference “Hear My Voice – Empowering the Deaf”  held afterwards.

There are no statistics about the prevalence of deafness and hearing disabilities in the UAE. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, counts 360 million people—more than 5% of the world’s total population—that have disabling hearing loss.

“‘Our research has shown that to give deaf children the best chance of successful language acquisition, it is important that they are exposed to a sign language from a very young age.” ~Kearsy Cormier of the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the expertvillage

Of Young Voices

Proving their abilities beyond their physical incapacities are Angelique Vizorro, Brian Semeniego, Carla dela Cruz, and Daisy Panaligan. They are all members of the Young Voices, a global project of a United Kingdom-based health and welfare group that aims to fight work against poverty and social marginalization through film and music.1

Vizorro has been a part of the National Youth Commission (NYC) Government Internship Program that trained high school and college students alike for employment. She had graduated from STI College-Fairview and knew how to encode data, photocopy, scan, and file documents.

Semeniego has headed the YV-Iloilo Chapter and has represented the country in the workshop conducted by the he Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in Colombo, Sri Lanka last August 2010, and in the National Human Rights Forum led by the Presidential Human Rights Committee in April of the same year. He has hosted the radio program K-Forum before he became the youngest board member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-PINOY). To date, Semeniego intends to promote better accessibility for PWDs through his civil engineering degree.

Dela Cruz has undeveloped lower limbs. Despite of that, though, she was the one sent to Maryland, USA to study one high school year in 2004. She was the one sent to Ethiopia, Africa to attend a video filming workshop and she was the one of those awarded the Women Achiever of the Year last March 25, 2011. She is a cum laude of BS Education, major in Special Education, from the Trinity University of Asia.

Panaligan is an amputee since birth. She is a ballroom dancer as well, albeit on wheels. She is also an athlete and had won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 6th Asean Paragames in Solo, Indonesia.

1 Worldwide, there are 1200 PWD members of YV to date. They are from 21 countries and ages 16-25 years old. In the Philippines, YV is one of the core programs idealized by the LCD Foundation, involved as it was during the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Video courtesy of the LCD Young Voices