HAPI PWD FEEDING with AJ
January 15, 2019
This is the fourth instalment of the monthly feeding event for persons with disabilities in Consolacion Cebu SPED Center, through the generosity of the Torres sisters.
No Time To Waste
Just fresh from my trips in Iloilo and Dumaguete, I took the late night bus bound for Cebu that lasted about 7.5 hours just to take part in this event that should start at 9 AM.
I arrived at the Cebu North Terminal then off to Consolacion town north of Mandaue City.I did not waste any minute, I hopped in the car right away as soon as I arrived at the Torres residence to Consolacion SPED Center for the feeding event.
Hugs and Smiles
Together with Ms. M’s sister Agustina and her girlfriend Mira, we walked the narrow and steep way leading to the school. We got in to the first room with children with Down syndrome. What welcomed me was a bearhug from one of the students. One thing I immediately noticed, these students with Down syndrome are exceptionally affectionate.
One of the students with Down syndrome asked me to take selfies with him using his non-working phone. So I obliged, played along, and took photos with him using his phone.
The photo op was followed by the actual feeding with every Filipino kid’s favorite: Jollibee Meals
The second room we went in is the most silent room in the school, a room for hearing impaired students. Deaf people are very close to my heart, as I was an interpreter for the deaf and mute back in the day. So I had the chance, for a few minutes, to practice my sign language skills again after more than ten years dormancy. These students expressed their happiness through sign language. Sign language is an important part of Deaf culture, and it means a lot if you’re someone who’s not deaf yet you know their language.
I had a good time with the deaf students, they teased me a little for my obviously rusty sign language- rusty for my hands were too stiff.
These Students are Vulnerable
Then we went to the third room with only a handful of students. One of the students has muscular dystrophy that she could barely stand up unless provided with careful assistance.
I learned that seven students were absent in first room we went in during that time. One was even too sick to stand up and join us in the photos. So I thought to myself what could have been then reason why they were absent, because they’re sick? One of the teachers confirmed. Persons with disability are understandably susceptible to diseases and infections.
Feeding programs can help to get children into school and help to keep them there, consequently reducing absenteeism, and once the children are in school, the programs can contribute to their learning, through avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive abilities. As a reflection, I remember my peers in my primary years in school, where Bryan and I graduated from, Banago Elementary School. From there I saw first hand how hunger directly affects students’ health and performance in school. Back to these students with disabilities, I must say that there’s no means that they can repay, save their tight hugs and thank you smiles. A total 70 students were fed in four different rooms, and looking at their happy faces is just fulfilling.