November 28, 2015. It was a big day for Rachel, Richel, Jessa, Belen and Lorna—members of Extending Hands group that was formed from the Participatory Action Groups (PAGS). They were organizing a seminar on FP that would be attended by men and women with disability. With optimism and the thought that they were well prepared, the team looks forward to THE DAY.
A series of unfortunate events
On the morning of November 28, Rachel, Richel, Jessa, Belen and Lorna met around 7:00 in the morning to prepare for the seminar at 9:00am. The venue was still locked and the team had to wait for the person who will bring the key. Minutes had passed but the person who holds the key did not arrive. Suddenly, it started to drizzle which turned into rain. By this time, the team started to panic. They called for help but it took a while before help came. It felt like they were in for disaster. As Rachel recalled, “walang susi, dumating na ang speaker pero wala pa ring susi para sa SK. Dumating si Lai, wala ring susi. Naghintay kami ng tatlong oras [there was no key, the speaker arrived but no key yet to open the Sk. Lai came but he don’t have the key. We waited for three hours].
Getting over the odds
No matter how stressful the situation had been, the team did not lose their focus. Against all odds, they took the plunge. Rachel formally opened the seminar with a warm hello and everything flowed smoothly. The team felt relieved when the seminar ended successfully. Rachel admitted that because of the stressful situation that they faced she forgot the sequence of the program. “Minemorize ko ang pagkakasunod sunod ng activities pero nakalimutan ko”[ I memorized the sequence of the activities but I forgot everything ]. For the other team members, cooperation and good team work helped them to overcome the odds and made their activity successful. As some of the members said, “Successful po kahit yung ibang members ay di naka-attend. Si Jocelyn dumating kahit hindi naman siya kagrupo.” [It was successful even if some team members were not able to attend. Jocelyn came though she is not a member of the team]. In addition, the team observed that their participants, especially persons with disabilities, were interested in the discussion. The participants asked questions on family planning methods, menstrual problems, pap smear and where to avail sexual and reproductive health services. Lorna quipped, “yung dating diniscuss sa family planning, mas luminaw.”
Bringing out the best in women
“Hindi naming akalain na kaya pala naming makapagconduct ng seminar” [we did not expect that we can conduct seminar], Rachel said. Rachel, Richel, Jessa, Belen, Lorna together with 11 women with disability had participated in the Participatory Action Group sessions conducted under the W-DARE project. Their participation in the PAG process helped them find their voice and reflect on their lives. They were able to establish friendship with fellow PAG participants. Some PAG participants realized that they needed to overcome their inferiority and start to participate in community activities. The PAG process had challenged them to go beyond their disability and aspire for a better situation for themselves and for their fellow women with disability.