Redefining the boundaries set by a volunteer’s unfortunate accident
Disability is a matter of perception. Dante Lopez Eborde, 46, vendor, and a community volunteer of Barangay Sto. Niño, Talisay, Camarines Norte has demonstrated that through volunteering, people with disabilities can serve and bring significant changes in their community.
Dante was working abroad when he first heard about Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS). He said that his wife has also told him about the beautiful projects carried out by the program, all of which, in his opinion, significantly benefited every barangay.
He initially had second thoughts when their barangay chairperson approached and offered him the position of Barangay Development Council – Technical Working Group (BDC-TWG) chairperson. Not out of a lack of desire, but rather because the result of Dante’s motorcycle accident left him feeling disabled. He was worried he would not be able to play the part well.
He repeatedly asked himself, “Paano ako susundin ng kapwa ko volunteer kung ako ay isang PWD? Paano ko sila papamunuan kung ako ay walang tiwala sa aking sarili?”
(How will my fellow volunteers follow me if I am a person with a disability? How can I lead them if I have no faith in myself?)
He pondered it for a long time and mustered the courage to give it a try before accepting the offer. He wanted to prove that a person with a disability is capable of contributing to a community, and he succeeded in doing so.
According to Dante, regardless of whether his presence is required or he needs to attend training, he does not hesitate to devote his time even at night or while he is working because he believes that it will help him further his knowledge.
He noted that, in his capacity as the BDC-TWG chairperson, the project’s implementation was fraught with difficulties. One of these is locating skilled workers. He claimed to have traveled the entire neighborhood and discovered that, unfortunately, individuals there prefer to work elsewhere because the pay is higher. It does not stop there, he added that handling people, skilled workers, and laborers had also grown to be difficult.
“Mahirap din pero sa pagtutulungan po nase-settle man lahat,” he stated.
(It is difficult but with cooperation, everything gets settled.)
Dante acknowledged that despite the difficulties, they had learned something. They learned that in order for them to understand what they were doing, time and love must be given to it. He also added that they were not abandoned by the KALAHI-CIDSS staff.
Along with the other members of the BDC-TWG, they have accomplished the retrofitting and refurbishment sub-project of their Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) building on June 28, 2022, which according to Dante will aid in the ongoing crisis they are going through.
He stated that through Community-Driven Development (CDD), they, particularly the volunteers, are empowered.
“Natuto kaming makialam at makilahok sa aming barangay pag may mga project na ano… kumbaga may natutuhan kami kung paano mag pa-implement ng project, kung pano mag-umpisa ng ganitong gawain.” he added.
(We learned how to intervene and participate in our barangay when there are projects like… I think we learned how to implement a project, [and] how to start this kind of work.)
Trials are like a bend in the road, your life does not end there unless you fail to make a turn. Just like what Dante did, he did not let his condition limit what his able heart can do for his community.
“Ako man ay kabilang ngayon sa taong may kapansanan, napatunayan ko na ako ay may silbi at maitutulong sa lipunan.” Dante proudly stated.
(Even though I am now among disabled people, I have proven that I am useful and can contribute to society.)
While it is true that no one knows what is on the other side of the road, you have to believe that the best is waiting there. As they say, you will never know if you do not try. You will never know what else you can accomplish or who else you can inspire if you do not believe, especially in yourself.
Written by: Io Frenzy Bautista, DSWD Intern