DAVAO ORIENTAL — Differently-abled persons residing in six hinterland villages here have availed of much-needed government services through the Provincial Government’s regular program called Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental (NLD) Barangay Outreach Caravan. Aside from catering to the general population, the five-day caravan held on October 16 to 20 in far-flung villages of Caraga and Baganga towns also catered to Persons with Disability (PWD) who are among the most seldom reached by opportunities and government services. Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) Focal Person Hector Acebo said that they have catered to at least 49 PWDs in the villages of PM Sobrecarey and Palma Gil in Caraga town and the villages of Binondo, Mahan-ub, Mikit, and Campawan in Baganga town.
Beneficiaries received wide-ranging services including handover of free assistive devices such as canes and crutches, medical checkup, and medicines, among others. PWDs who were not yet officially registered as a PWD were subjected to a disability assessment in order to get a PWD identification card. With the PWD card issued by the Municipal Social Welfare Office, PWDs are entitled to avail of benefits, particularly 20 percent discount for medicines, medical services, and at the restaurants and recreational facilities. In the province, there are currently around 7,400 PWDs identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the Department of Health. However, only 4,000 of them have a PWD ID. The PDAO targets to reach at least 2,500 disabled persons to be issued with IDs within the year.
PWDs are considered to be among the most marginalized sector of the society. They include those with long-term impairment on visual, hearing, and speech; physical, psychiatric and intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy; and persons with autism, among others. At the caravan, PWD beneficiaries and their families, expressed their overwhelming thanks to the government for its efforts to address their simple and most basic needs. To date, there are scores of livelihood interventions that are being implemented by the province for PWDs. These include the enrollment of visually impaired persons to the Technical Education Skills Development Authority’s short-course massage and beauty care training. The Provincial Governor’s Office is also providing financial support to some PWDs in the hinterland villages of Caraga town in making and selling high-quality handicrafts made from Mandaya indigenous materials. Receiving excellent feedback in tourism exhibits, these handmade products now holds the potential of being marketed locally and abroad. (More on PWD in next issue)