By VERA Files
When it comes to disaster preparedness, Filipinos can learn valuable lessons from a seemingly unlikely group: Persons with disabilities (PWDs) at the Tahanang Walang Hagdanan compound in Cainta, Rizal.
At the first sign of an impending deluge, the PWDs there know what to do, where to go and what to take with them, said Tahanang Walang Hagdanan resource manager Maricel Abary-Condole.
Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, which means "home without stairs" in Pilipino, is a non-profit organization that runs a four-hectare facility in Cainta in Eastern Metro Manila where some 120 orthopedically handicapped persons live. The center also provides employment for hundreds of others who live outside the facility.
Cainta was among the many areas that were submerged when Typhoon Ondoy hit the country in September 2009. Some 200 residents and employees of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan were trapped inside the facility, unable to move to higher ground, and losing much of their belongings. Abary-Condole said Ondoy destroyed 70 percent of the center.
That experience has taught Tahanang Walang Hagdanan valuable lessons in disaster preparedness which helped it deal with recent calamities such as the devastating southwest monsoon that hit the country last August.
Tahanang Walang Hagdanan now considers itself better prepared in helping PWDs cope with disaster.
(This story is part of Reporting on Persons With Disability, a project of VERA Files in partnership with The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for "true.")