Disability Turns to Opportunity

Disability Turns to Opportunity

Publication info

Dennis Amata, CARE Philippines

“I realized that even I’m a person with disability, I can still achieve my goals.”

This is what Evelyn Tangile proudly shared when asked about what she has learned from all the activities she participated with international aid organization CARE.

Evelyn, 45 and a mother of two, is her family’s sole breadwinner. Her family also lost their house when typhoon Haiyan slammed her village in Laua-an, Antique in the Philippines last December 2013.

Evelyn is a person with disability. When she was young, her village experienced massive fire. While trying to escape through the grasslands, she didn’t expect that even the grass underneath the bushes was burning. Unfortunately, her feet were severely burned that led to deformities. She stayed in the hospital for several months until she was able to walk normally again.

“It was hard. I was so young that time. I felt that my life would not be normal. I was bullied in school. My classmates were teasing me because of my feet,” she shared.

But that didn’t stop Evelyn to continue with her life. She eventually accepted what had happened to her and instead worked hard to achieve her dreams.

“I didn’t lose hope. Even after experiencing another devastating challenge with Haiyan, I didn’t give up. I didn’t want to end up just hoping and dreaming. I had to do something,” said Evelyn.

Determined to reach her goals, she submitted a proposal to CARE on how she could start an enterprise that would also benefit other people in her community, specifically vegetable and rice farmers.

She then became part of CARE’s Women Enterprise Fund where she received financial assistance and training support from CARE and local partner Antique Development Foundation.

Evelyn used the money she received from CARE to start a food vending business. She built a small food stall in front of her house where she sells fruits, vegetables, rice, chicken and pork meat, eggs, ingredients, condiments etc.

She was also able to support the farmers in her community and other nearby upland villages.

“The farmers now sell their harvest to me. So instead of going to the market or town proper that will cost them of transportation, they just go to my house,” she said.

Evelyn feels happy whenever she is able to help other people. She knew the experience of almost losing everything and she is forever grateful to those people who helped her get back on her feet.

“I could relate to their struggles. I promised myself that if I would be able to have a better life, I will also help them to do the same.”

Evelyn shared that her enterprise allows her to save for her children’s education. She is the only one working for the family as her husband is also ill.

“My eldest son is now in the seminary while my youngest dreams of becoming a doctor. I know it’s every parent’s worry but I want them to have good future. That;s the main reason why I’m working so hard.”

Juggling all her activities every day, Evelyn also works in the municipal office as its focal point person for disability affairs. She prepares activities, plans and programs for the welfare of PWDs in her town.

“I really don’t earn much from being a Government employee, In fact I get more income from my enterprise. But I believe it has been my calling to serve PWDs. I want them to realize their potential and be able to work for themselves too.”

Evelyn considers everything as a learning experience.

“I always thank the Lord for giving us 2nd life after Haiyan so I wouldn’t waste this opportunity to become a better person and to reach out to others.”