Last December 9, I attended an event of Grain Foundation for PWD Inc., in coordination with Korea International Cooperation Agency, called, “Kaya: Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko.” It is a fund raising event through the shared performances (persons with disability) PWDs and Youth Group. It was held at the activity area in Robinsons Novaliches, near SM Fairview. The activity began at about 1 pm, and there were many PWD students, parents, teachers and spectators who were there. Just before the event started, the people gathered around the booths near the event area to register, and to purchase goods created by the SpEd students of Grain Foundation that includes mini notebooks, purses, bags, bracelets, necklaces, etc. I bought a mini notebook, and a green bracelet with a mustache bead. The notebooks’ designs were actually painted by their students, and the one that I purchased was painted by a student named Christopher Lopez, who sang a Christmas song later in the event. The bracelet looked really nice, and attached to the bracelet was a message that says, “Thank you for your donation! This bracelet is 100% made by our students with Cerebral Palsy, Fanconi Syndrome, Intellectual Disability and Autism… Love, Joy Disability School – GPM.” There was also a beautiful caption at the end that says. “Disability is not to be overcome, but a lifestyle made complete through sharing.” I think this message was really showcased the main purpose of the event, which is to let people know no matter how different we are, no matter how much we lack, as individuals, we still have so many things to share to other people such as our love and passion to our talents and hobbies.
While the stage was being prepared, I noticed that many people are lining up at a booth near the event. They are actually lining up for free Korean coffee called Yang Tang Guk, which are also served by two Koreans. I asked one of the handlers, Ms. Stephanie R. Relova about this, and she told me that Grain Foundation is also sponsored by them (KOICA), along with Mirai Welfare Foundation. She also told me that they are also in partnership with TESDA, NCDA, DSWD, House of Representative Winston “Winnie” Castelo, and the UP Special Education Council, among others. I’ve read that Grain Foundation for PWD Inc. aims to help the PWD community particularly the individuals with Developmental Disability and Deaf to PWD by giving them the opportunity to study and work without discrimination. They offer free vocational training project to prepare them to acquire skills necessary to lead independent lives in the future. I’ve also learned that this is actually free and the organization provides for the transportation, meal, uniform, and ID. Some of the programs and services of their foundation includes the Joy Disability School, Vocational Training, Livelihood Program, and Taekwondo and Korean Language.
The atmosphere inside the venue was vibrant and brimming with positivity, even before the event started. On some sides, there were teachers or sign language interpretators gesturing to some of their students. There were times when there were students who were anxious, and kept covering their ears with their hands because of the noise and too much sensory stimulation, however, their guardians, and sometimes, the volunteers would accommodate them kindly, and would help them to calm down. It is also refreshing to see that almost all of the people around me were very encouraging to one another. The students cheer with their other classmates, happily supporting, and clapping for them when they see them on stage. Even the teachers, volunteers, and their parents were very supporting, widely grinning and smiling behind the camera. They performed by group, sometimes by themselves, or with the participating Youth Group and sometimes, individually. Their performances were really engaging and excellent and one could really tell how much time they allotted for practicing for their performances and pieces, because almost all of them were very well polished. Their theme is around Christmas so they sang mostly Christmas songs, and danced to Christmas music.
Before every performances, videos of the testimonies of the students and parents were shown on the large screen on the right corner of the stage. The videos moved a lot of people, in a positive manner. The students were cheering for their peers whenever it would be their turns to share their stories. Some parents were emotional after watching, and actually started getting teary-eyed. Although the people have very different backgrounds, and they all have very different circumstances and stories to tell, they all share the same experiences of really struggling with themselves, just before they entered the organization. They shared their troubles about their self-esteem, how being not well-off actually hinders them more to try more things, and how they struggle in accepting and loving themselves because of the stigma that the society places on them. Although they admit that they do still have these struggles, they share that the foundation help them alleviate these struggles, by helping them discover their talents and potentials, and by helping them know and realize that they have many talents and gifts to share to the people around them and to the world.
Although I came there all alone, I left the event with a happy, full, and hopeful heart. The people there were inspiring in many ways. They inspire me to work harder with what I have, and to share it what other people. They also made me remember that it is important to be patient and to listen, and take time to help other people. The foundation’s motto is, “We share love,” and I can truthfully say that I’ve seen lots of love at that day, and I also thankfully say that I also received mine.