Growing up, I witnessed how my grandmother live a life of darkness, for almost a decade before she died. For something that only started as a Cataract, left unattended without medical intervention, she became completely blind until she passed away. It was painful to watch, when there’s nothing you can do because you are just a kid and no options to help but just to try to be kind and guide her, feed her when we were together. Had it happened at a different time when her granddaughters have jobs, it would have been a different story.
Fast forward to these days, it is always my kind of luxury to have a massage. At first I usually choose the private clinic, even though I am aware that Blind Masseuse clinic is just nearby.
My thoughts were:
“They are like my grandmother, how can I ask them to give me that service, it would be heartbreaking”
“Do they really know how to give a massage?”
Until I tried. And how wrong I had been. These Masseuse showed expertise with what they do. They are very professional and they are really good with their work.
Their group is called Bohol Persons With Disability Workers Association, Inc. They started their group in 1998 with only 12 members. In the year 2000, the Government of Bohol granted them a place to be used for their service which is located in Tamblot St. Tagbilaran City. Now they are 70. All members are Persons With Disability.
These hardworking PWDs are composed of:
- 37 - Visually Impaired Masseuse/Masseur (they are located at their Tamblot St. Clinic and at Alturas Mall in Tagbilaran City)
- 10 - Visually Impaired Entertainers – the ones who entertain passengers through songs with their guitars at the port or airport for some donations (so please give to them when you are traveling, okay?)
- 16 – PWD Guide, they are the ones who accompany blind Masseuse for home service and helping in locating the customer’s address
- 7 – Staff with the role for laundry, clerical/admin work, cashering, bookkeeping jobs
A few months back, as I was waiting for my turn again at night time, there were a lot of us customers waiting, with some Masseuse still idle and roaming around, while others chose to go home. And I asked why, to which the other staff responded that the place can only accommodate seven customers at a time because that is the only capacity they have with the beds. I felt bad about it knowing that they could have earned more and maximize their income if they have more rooms. And that would mean less waiting time for the customers too. I also asked them if they still have plans to expand their place.
They do their best with what they have, aiming for self-sustainability and paying for maintenance and other costs. Talking to their President, I learned that they are optimistic and bold in their vision to make expansions and grab the opportunities surrounding them. We sat down and talk about their plans.
Moving forward, this is what they wanted to achieve. To buy:
- a two horse power aircon and increase their bed capacity to ten
- a receptionist table and a sala set (living room furnitures – tables and chairs at the receiving area)
- a Cash Register so that giving of receipt is automatic
- a Counterfeit Detector for fake bills
- To pay for the expenses in acquiring and building of a more comfortable clinic at Alturas Mall 4th floor
- To pay for the expenses in acquiring and building a clinic at the new International Airport in Panglao Island which Is expected to be operational within this year
- To pay for a vehicle that was taken on installment that allows them ease in transport from different places of service and events and to buy a customized tricycle fit for easier use by the PWDs
- To create a Blindmate band
- To buy 2 Electric guitars and one Electric base
- To pay for the renovation of their building so that the front portion will be converted into a canteen and possibly a store where other PWDs can sell their products or products made by the local people
Their leader is bold and future-oriented. What is inspiring about these people is that IN SPITE their limitations and conditions, they have an unwavering commitment to their families, to working hard and for being a responsible provider for their children. Every session that I had with them, it comes with a different person that even if I’m so sleepy, I like listening to their stories. It is of a different circumstances for each Masseuse/Masseur, most of the time. It tells of a father, who successfully send his three children to College and is still sending the youngest one, saying it is his only legacy to them, their education, of a woman who is already a widow and living with her only daughter, of a daughter who is visually impaired together with her two other sisters and even her father because her blindness runs in the family.
Some of them, are living in small cramped boarding houses with their colleagues, four in a room, like those College students, trying to get by everyday with so much little space and paying their monthly rent. While some are living in small homes under the housing offered to them by Habitat For Humanity in Panglao Island, thus paying their mortgage until fully paid. Heart-warming stories of perseverance.
I commit to choose them since then, because I’ll never know how many can benefit from that little amount that I have for a payment. And I hope that we will see them as the CAPABLE people that they are, never doubting their capacity and to patronize their services as our little way of helping them.
Your financial help through this platform will make their plans come true easier and faster with our help.
I pray that you’ll give a LITTLE, so they can have MORE.
You can also send your financial support through their BPI Account
Account Name: Bohol Person W/ Disability Workers Assn.
Account Number: 1203-3267-73