Student's aspirations for persons with disabilities

Teary-eyed, West Visayas State University Miss Education 2013 aspirant Mary Gail Buñol shares why she took up a course that will prepare her to a future of caring for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
“I grew up in a family with members who have disabilities. My aunt had intellectual disability and my cousin has hearing impairment,” said Buñol, fourth year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Special Education with specialization in teaching children with mental retardation.
“Since I was little, some family members had difficulty understanding what our PWD members wanted to say, what they wanted to eat or do. I consider this a gift that I can understand them even if what they’re saying is unclear,” she said.
“Sadly, my aunt died last August. I was devastated because I took this course especially for her, so that I can teach her how to count from one to 10 or learn the alphabet at least. But what can I do, her life was cut off,” she lamented.
“A special person in my life told me that what I was not able to do for my aunt, I will do for other PWDs including my cousin,” she said.

This early, Buñol has teaching job offers.
“I will get teaching experience from our town Hinigaran, Negros Occidental. There’s a SPED school there,” she said.
“After I pass the board, I will process my papers to leave for Australia and work in a hospital there,” she added.
Buñol said that she will use that opportunity and time away from the country to save money. And when she has enough funds already, she will go back to the Philippines and put up a SPED school.
“I will teach children with intellectual disability,” she said.
But teaching is not the only contribution she plans to give.
As the common adage goes, “Don’t give them fish. Teach them how to fish.” Buñol said that PWDs have to be self-sustaining.
“So, I will put up a grocery store where the students can work after graduation. Bisan bagger lang, as long as they will realize in themselves that they have worth. I believe they can do what normal people can do. Even more,” she said.

Buñol and Calapardo
Meanwhile, all candidates of Miss Education 2013 were required to have an advocacy. Since PWDs are close to Buñol’s heart, she organized a project called “May Pera sa Basura” for them early this November.
She tapped her cousin Heizyl Mae Calapardo to be the resource speaker in training members of the Association of Disabled Persons of Iloilo, Inc. how to make wallets from tetra packs.
Calapardo is a former crafts maker of Talleres de Nazaret in Negros Occidental.
Since they don’t have any sewing machine, the trainees sew the wallets with their bare hands. The products were lovingly made amid fun and laughter among the trainees. The products turned out finely-stitched and beautiful.
This is Buñol’s first community work related to her advocacy.
“Given the chance, I will do this again,” she said.
The Miss Education 2013 pageant is on December 12.

Meanwhile, Buñol reminds PWDs to believe in their self-worth. They can do certain things like what normal persons do, she said. “They can truly help our society a lot,” she said.
She also reminded non-PWDs to end discrimination towards members of the sector.

“They are human beings. They should not be bullied. We must learn to love PWDs. A time will come when we will need their help,” she concluded./Purr

Tetra packs recycled into wallets

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