Reflection on the peer facilitator training for Participatory Action Groups (PAGs) with women with disability

Today’s post comes from Lauren Temminghoff, a W-DARE intern who joined the W DARE team in October 2014 to support the development of training resources for Participatory Action Groups (PAGs) with women with disability.

From Thursday the 22nd to Sunday 25th of January 2015, peer facilitator training for the Participatory Action Groups was held at the Sequoia Hotel in Quezon City, Philippines. This workshop proved to be an excellent opportunity to bring together new and familiar faces from Quezon City, Ligao City and Melbourne, Australia. Also in attendance were our partners from UNFPA who continue to support and collaborate with us to ensure that the W-DARE project benefits women living with disability and their families.

Participants at the PAG facilitator training, Quezon City, January 2015.

Participants and W-DARE team members at the PAG facilitator training, Quezon City, January 2015.

The Participatory Action Groups (PAGs) are integral to the capacity building portion of the W-DARE project. The PAG intervention is to be made up of ten peer-facilitated meetings for up to six groups of women with disability and one group of parents of children with disability. The PAG meetings will be held once every two weeks for half a day over a twenty-week period. All meetings will be participatory, strengths-based and comprise a combination of structured activities and open discussion, with a focus on key factors relevant to sexual and reproductive health needs and rights.

The peer facilitator training sessions, run by Ms. Alexandra Devine and Ms. Lauren Temminghoff from The University of Melbourne, and Mr. Jerome Zayas and Dr. Asa Marco, from De La Salle University were designed to give future peer facilitators the opportunity to learn more about the W-DARE project, build on their facilitator skills and confidence and review the PAG guide. This was an excellent forum to gain much needed feedback from women with disability living in the Philippines to ensure that the PAG guide is context specific and content appropriate. The PAG guide aims to cover topics ranging from disability and sexual rights, sexual and reproductive health information, violence prevention as well as the development of action plans.

The training workshop was very successful, which I largely credit to the participants, who each brought their own skills and experience and contagious enthusiasm, which enabled us to all learn from one another. Having such a diverse group of women in one room gave us the opportunity to hear about peoples differing experiences with disability, sexual and reproductive health and the challenges people with disability face in the Philippines.

Clockwise: Annecita Albion (LAPDI), Janine Cruzet (Visual Impairment team), Ranilo Sorongon (Autism Association of the Philippines), Jezabel De Mesa (BRTTH), Theresita Lloren (TWH) and Joy Bien (TAPDI) during the PAG facilitators training workshop.

Clockwise: Annecita Albion (LAPDI), Janine Cruzet (Visual Impairment team), Ranilo Sorongon (Autism Association of the Philippines), Jezabel De Mesa (BRTTH), Theresita Lloren (TWH) and Joy Bien (TAPDI) during the PAG facilitators training workshop.

Evaluation of the training highlighted the importance of having the opportunity to practice various facilitation skills such as listening to people’s situations, and how facilitators might support each other to de-brief. Although, the various challenges of the PAG intervention were also highlighted, with participants acknowledging the need for ongoing support from the W-DARE team and partners to enable the groups to cover important topics in an informed, sensitive and respectful way.

Another challenge that punctuated the training was how to ensure that the PAG intervention can be tailored to be  inclusive of women with all different types of disability. The peer facilitators and the W-DARE team and partners in the Philippines are all working very hard to ensure the PAG guide and materials will be relevant and accessible for the different groups of women. For example, Ms. Maria Rowena Rivera (Weng), who has been with the W-DARE team since its inception is working with Ms, Marites Racquel E. Corpuz (Rack) to ensure we can make the material relevant and accessible to women who are Deaf or hard of hearing. We were also privileged to have Ms Janice Sarmiento Cambri, founder of Transforming Communities for Inclusion of Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities-Philippines, to support the inclusion of women with psychosocial disability, and Mr Ranilo Sorongon from Asia Pacific Centre on Disability and Ms My Sorongon from the Autism Society Philippines who will support the W-DARE team to engage parents of children with disability and also encourage the team to develop materials which are accessible for women with intellectual disability.

As an intern on the W-DARE project, coming on board in late 2014, I was indeed one of the new faces in the training workshop. I would firstly like to take the opportunity to thank our partners in the Philippines: Dr Asa Marco, Jerome Zayas, Raquel Ignacio, and Mona Pindog for making Alex and I feel so welcome and helping to coordinate a lot of the logistics around running a 4 day workshop. But I also want to say a huge thank you to the women who participated in the PAG peer facilitation training workshop. I felt so fortunate to be in the company of such strong women who are so passionate about advocating for the rights of women with disability and bringing about change in their communities. I wish each future facilitator the utmost luck in moving forward with their own PAG sessions and I cannot wait to receive further feedback on the progress of the W-DARE project.

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