"Close your eyes”, Jefferlyn says to PSHF administrator Sherry Cataluña, as she applies a blade to Sherry’s eyebrows and later on darkens them with an eyebrows pencil. After the eyes, she then applies make up to Sherry’s face. This would be an easy thing to do for an ordinary beautician but Jefferlyn is a disabled girl who has stubs instead of hands and feet. She is 30 years old and works in the local barangay office of Villamonte. She has her own desk in the barangay office and she tends to the PWDs (persons with disability) who come to apply for a membership, obtain an ID or seek assistance. A year ago, she and several other PWDs received skills training in candle and soap making, sewing by hand, typing, and how to apply make-up. She receives a monthly honorarium of 2,000 pesos (US$43) which enables her to buy rice for her and her younger sister Janice and her own family. She also gets a small income from selling miscellaneous items such as coin purses and trinkets.
It was way back in 1992 when I first met Jefferlyn and her mother Myrna Lopez. Myrna was selling native delicacies and happened to pass by the office. I bought some of her delicacies and then chatted with her. The next day she came back and subsequently made a habit of visiting us and Jefferlyn always came with her. I told Myrna about the PSHF and sometime later she applied for and received a loan of 1,000 pesos to buy and sell fish. She made a few payments and then stopped because she had run out of capital. The fish selling was her only livelihood and her capital easily got spent on food for her family. A few months later, we provided the family with a housing grant as well as funds to build a toilet and start a livelihood - the buying and selling of used clothes, a business which has been carried on up to this day by her younger sister Janice.
Despite her handicaps, Jefferlyn is oozing with confidence. She’s made many friends and she regularly visits each one of them. One of their most exciting days out was in a resort where they all frolicked in the swimming pool. Yes, despite not having hands nor feet, Jefferlyn is able to swim.
Bernadette G. Togado
7th April 2016