PPCRV’s deaf volunteer on empowerment, equality, service
MANILA, Philippines – Every day, over the past week, more than 300 volunteers pass through the doors of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting’s (PPCRV) command office in Paco, Manila to devote their time to help ensure that election results are accurate.
As early as 8 in the morning, the volunteers arrive for the first shift of the day and proceed to their respective stations — some are tasked to do the manual encoding, some prepare the meals, some ensure that technologies are at their best state, some receive arriving election returns — all for their commitment for accuracy of election results, a way to show love of the country.
Some, however, have a more personal mission.
In the sea of computers and perfectly aligned rows of volunteers, a Philippine flag was raised.
A runner approached the volunteer raising the flag, the volunteer got his pen and wrote his concern.
Francis Boyle Comargo, a 27-year old third year student of the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS), did not allow his condition to stop him from serving as a volunteer for the PPCRV.
“My purpose to volunteer in the PPCRV is to contribute my skills and to be socially responsible so I want to share to the people and I want to show what we can do and to give chance to the deaf, [show] that we can serve [and not be] defined by our condition,” Comargo told INQUIRER.net through interpreter and SDEAS coordinator William Sidayon Jr.
“We want to show that we can and this is a symbol for us in the deaf community na despite member kami ng PWD, kaya naming makapag-serve sa mga tao to become more independent,” Comargo added.
Through raising a Philippine flag and writing their concerns on a sheet of paper, 25 volunteers from the SDEAS help with encoding of election results.
While there are struggles, Camargo said that they have a mission that is bigger than themselves.
“I feel, ngayon yung pagvo-volunteer, medyo mahirap pero ang goal namin is to experience, to learn, to embody the value of volunteerism,” Comargo said.
“Hindi namin iniisip ang sarili namin. But honestly, I feel tama yung ginagawa ko, itong sa pagvo-volunteer, mas nagiging responsible kami especially sa community tsaka sa country natin… ‘yung pagvo-volunteer namin, isa din yun sa opportunity namin to become ready, always ready.”
Volunteerism, an opportunity
Deaf volunteers are treated no differently in the PPCRV.
They work similar hours and are seated with the hearing volunteers.
Camargo said this allowed him to explore and to not only deliver his message, but to also learn by interacting with the other volunteers.
“Magkakasama yung hearing and deaf community pero yung conflict between the language barrier, no, we use gestural form [to communicate] pero magkakasama kami,” Comargo said.
“I learned to be more confident with myself and have the opportunity to apply my skills….because sa amin nga naeexperience namin, kulang yung interaction namin sa hearing community kasi nahihiya kami minsan so kailangan namin more on interaction with the people,” he added.
One thing he will take out from this experience?
A sense of individual worth.
“Sa sarili ko, ang purpose ko is about my individual worth kasi natutunan ko to be more respectful sa kapwa ko at sa sarili ko,” Comargo said.
“My goal is to be a volunteer, maraming experience dito, yung pagod ng trabaho, yung puyat, pero yung success para sa sarili ko ay ginawa ko yung trabaho ko because natuto akong maging responsable at masaya ako doon para sa sarili ko,” he added.
Comargo made his message clear — the deaf should not be pitied.
“I want the hearing community na huwag niyong isipin na ang deaf community ay kawawa. Kasi as deaf, hindi namin kailangang kaawaan bilang member ng PWD, alam na namin yun.
But we have the same skills, mayroon lang tayong pagkakaiba in terms of communication,” Comargo said.
“The opportunity to be a volunteer, specifically for the deaf community, ang goal namin is to be more independent, to become independent,” Comargo said.
“Though we have a language barrier sa deaf community, na kaya namin makapag-serve sa mga tao na hindi na kailangan dumepende. At the same time we are eager to serve the country. Yun ang pinakamasasabi naming empowerment.” (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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