Epitacio, 53 years old and a father of three, has been living with optimism despite his physical deformities. He is a polio survivor, a disease that attacks the nervous system leading to paralysis. Despite his condition, Epitacio was determined to live like a normal person and strived hard to provide food and other basic needs to his family. He is an elected councilor of Barangay Balete and the federation president of Bayabas Special Persons Organization (BASPO).
“My husband is a good provider because he accepts carpentry works, shoe repair and did hair cutting just to provide our needs. Even both of us are working, still it is difficult to catch up the needs of our children,” says Morninggrace, wife of Epitacio.
As voice of persons-with-disabilities, he started the lobbying for an income generating project for BASPO years ago. He talked with
government agencies and private organizations about the condition of his members and their hopes to have an extra source of income. But because of limited funds, his requests were denied. Action Against Hunger introduced the concept of resilient livelihood under the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management – Climate Change Adaptation (DRRM-CCA) project funded by Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID). BASPO was chosen based on their identified needs, existing capacities, availability of managed projects and recommendations of the Local Chief Executive.
“It was our first time to be involved in discussion like this asking about our needs, views and opinions on our desired livelihood. We
appreciate consultations and sharing like these as we realized that we are part of the community also, not as hopeless people but capable individuals that can contribute in any community undertakings,” explains Rene Dumanhog, treasurer of BASPO. After exploring various livelihood options suitable for persons-with-disabilities, a community-based mushroom production was chosen and formally started last April 19, 2018. As pilot, 30 members and immediate family members of BASPO were trained on tissue culture, spawn making, substrate making, bagging, monitoring and harvesting.
To date, an aggregate volume of 13 kilos have been harvested out of the 390 fruiting bags and gained about Php 2,600.00. Members
including Epitacio are appreciative of their efforts because they are beginning to savour the fruits of their labor. Initial profit was used for motorcycle maintenance that has been mobilized for rice straw gathering and other operational expenses like replenishment of fruiting bags.
To ensure resiliency during emergencies, a Community-Managed Savings and Credit Association (CoMSCA) was adopted to encourage the culture of savings among members. Part of the savings mechanism is to establish a social fund that will be pulled out in times of need aside from the individual savings. Epitacio further says that “I am hopeful that this livelihood project will help us augment our income to and to increase our participation as vulnerable group in disaster risk reduction activities of the municipality.”
Action Against Hunger is working closely with the Municipal Mayor’s Office, Municipal Agriculture Office and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) to expand the production facility particularly the construction of laboratory, incubation and sterilization areas. Trainings on financial management, product development and roll-out of savings mechanism are also pipelined to be implemented by month of May 2018 aside from marketing and product development activities. ●