W-DARE PAG facilitators involvement in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Philippines post – disability inclusive development training

Today’s post from Carminda Licerio, a women with a disability who has been involved with the W-DARE program since phase 1. Carminda writes about her experience at the recent DFAT Disability Inclusive Development Training in Manila and reflects on some of her experience of involvement in W-DARE to date, including qualitative data collection and analysis and co-facilitating a participatory action group (PAG) for women with mobility impairments. 

Being involved in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Philippines Post Disability Inclusive Development Training held on July 27, 2015 at the Australian Embassy, Makati, was such a wonderful experience for me. Though I had only a short time, I still had the chance to share the process of doing qualitative interviews with women and girls with mobility impairment and shared the story of one of my interviewees who experienced violence and sexual abuse. I thought being a qualitative interviewer is just like being an ordinary researcher, though we had lots of trainings done before they  were only for RAD, so I thought it’s (qualitative interviews) are just as easy as RAD. But when I’ve done my first interview I find the research more challenging. Hearing different experiences and stories of a woman and girls with disabilities inspired me and has improved me a lot.

Why I was inspired is because despite of the bad I’ve heard that happened to the interviewees, they still go on with their lives. Why it made me improved is because I never thought I could do the qualitative interview as the project needed. I felt nervous and worried before starting the interview because I wasn’t sure if my interviewees would agree or allow me to have an interview with them especially in relation to SRH, because most of them don’t even know about SRH.

But then I was happy and proud that I did the qualitative interviews the best that I could. If given the chance or if there is another opportunity, I want this research to be continued. I remember one of my interviewees mentioned about another woman with disability who also experienced a type of sexual abuse, but never told anyone except her trusted friends, because this woman doesn’t want to be embarrassed, until she decided to have a husband just to escape to her bad experiences. This girl is a fully amputated both arms and legs.

Carminda Licerio at a PAG session, July 2015, Quezon City.

Carminda Licerio at a PAG session, July 2015, Quezon City.

I am glad to be again a part of the Year 2 of the W-DARE project which involves the PAG (participatory action group). And being one of the PAG Facilitators is such a privilege for me, though it was another challenge because this is my first time handling people with mobility impairment with severe cases like cerebral palsy. Though I had talked to some women with the same case, it’s not like the way I’m doing in PAG.

In PAG I need to talk to them in language that they may easily understand because most of our participants in PAG have low levels of education. We also need to consider their cases in every session and topics to discuss. We need to listen very carefully in one of them because in her case she cannot speak clearly as what other’s does. This participant also was given a new wheelchair sponsored by Tahanang Walang Hagdanan.

One of our participants, who is a born again Christian, had never discussed sexuality before, because in her religion they don’t believe in same sex relationships. But this participant was inspired by the session and the project because she said that the session gave her more knowledge and the facilitators gave her courage to pursue her study again, and now she already enrolled in the Alternative Learning System to finish her high school, She said that when she saw the facilitators sitting on a wheelchair like her she was amazed and she never thought that a person with disabilities can do such things. Because this girl had never been able to go outside their home aside from going to church.

In my thoughts, this kind of action research project should be done in the whole country  so that the government will know the real situation of women with disabilities in relation to SRH and also their needs.

Carminda Licerio and participants during a PAG session, May 2015, Quezon City.

Carminda Licerio and participants during a PAG session, May 2015, Quezon City.

A number of the other W-DARE PAG facilitators also had such a great experience in participating in the DFAT Philippines Post training. Though we only had a short time to speak, as one of the panelist I had a chance to share my experience being a qualitative researcher for the W-DARE project. Whilst  I have  had some  experience in interviewing lots of PWDs  in relation to my employment, W-DARE This was my first time being a part of qualitative research. It’s been a pleasure for me sharing the process of doing the qualitative interview of women and girls with disabilities with mobility impairment, particularly sharing the story of one of my interviewees who experienced violence and sexual abuse.

Weng Rivera is a Deaf woman working with the Deaf participants of PAG with Rack Corpus. They both also presented during the DFAT training. Weng said it was a pleasure to be part of the training to be able to share her experience of being Deaf in the Philippines during the morning panel. Weng also shared her experience working with survivors and victims, especially Deaf women when she used with power point presentation. Highlighting that the situation of Filipino Deaf women had in terms of violence and abuse, added  to the oppression and marginalization, further worsening their “voicelessness”.

Many Deaf women were keen to join the PAG, more than could be accommodated. Ms Rack shared how impressed she was because the participants had learnt about their choices and rights through the  UNCRP, and that they could become independent. They emphasized even though they knew their best, to facilitate, they continue and repeat in each session so deaf women participants would not forget what they had learnt. And someday, they will become a leader to share with other deaf women in the communities.

Weng also was part of the qualitative interviews with other women who are Deaf, She contributed qualitative data analysis, attended trainings, seminars and project partner and stakeholder meetings.

Janine Cruzet was also one of the panelist, and is a co-facilitator of the PAG team for women with vision impairment. Janine said, it was also a nice and memorable experience for her to be on the panel as it gave her the chance to share with the group about her experience in the PAG sessions and what was the PAG’s impact in her life, from being one of the facilitators and also a documenter. She also explained about what the PAG intervention is. She mentioned that PAG stands for Participatory Action Group that aims to improve understanding of sexual and reproductive health and to develop individual or collective action plan on promoting SRH for women with disabilities and access the services provided by the government

Krissy Bisda also in the VI PAG team was there for the morning session, she mentioned about Nanay Rogelia, the grandmother/guardian of one of the participants from the Ortho team. Nanay Rogelia has two grandchildren who have a disability, one has Down syndrome and the other one has cerebral palsy. Both are cousins and were left abandoned by their parents. According to Krissy, Nanay Rogelia mentioned her sacrifices in taking care of her two grandchildren because she is old and she was worried about the future of the two. She said that hopefully her grandchildren could have some support or even a job that fits to them to sustain their everyday needs. Krissy also shared her happy experience being one of the panelist since in the morning session to talk about the experiences of the persons with disabilities and informed them especially about the blind. She was very happy that DFAT has a kind of program like this so that the employees of the embassy might get to learn to do some programs that are  inclusive for people with disability, and they might consult us and to encourage them that we should be included in the planning for the effectiveness of their programs. She was also proud of sharing about the findings of our project that we are telling the truth because we have the evidence and complete details, of course with the support of other organizations especially the WDARE project.

Krissy also mentioned that this kind of project must be spread not only in the embassy, but also in our government and others, to promote disability inclusion, and make equality stronger. And hopefully this program won’t stop.

Aya Sunit also in Krissy’s team said it was such a short experience for her but unforgettable. She was tasked to share a short background data about their Visually Impaired participants in PAG Session, and some of the daily challenges that the participants have to go through. She was grateful since she really wants to tell everyone the status of their participants, and how they were changed and empowered by the lessons they have learned in their sessions. She also hopes that she had clearly conveyed the message that those individuals were hungry for formal knowledge and information and more than willing to learn with a little support coming from their team.

W-DARE team members Rowena Riviera, Rack Corpuz, Carmind Licerio, Krissy Bisda, Aya Tiongco-Sunit and Janine Cruzet facilitating a session during the DFAT workshop, July 2015, Manila.

W-DARE team members Rowena Riviera, Rack Corpuz, Carmind Licerio, Krissy Bisda, Aya Tiongco-Sunit and Janine Cruzet facilitating a session during the DFAT workshop, July 2015, Manila.

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