WHAT would you do if one day you wake up unable to do what you usually do? Having no capacity anymore to work for a living with the job you used to be good at. Some people lose hope, and worse, some get so depressed that they wanted to end their life.
Allan Rasman, 48 years old and from Davao City, never thought his life would suddenly change one day through a car accident. When he lost his leg, he said he seemed to lose everything. A friend came to him saying he should not waste life by holding on to the past that will never change at all and start doing things that will somehow make a difference.
As a Muslim, he knew the Muslim communities in the city needed help much more the persons with disabilities like him.
"Muslim PWDs (people with disabilities) are mostly treated as hopeless people and there has been lack of intervention in these communities," Rasman said in an interview with SunStar Davao. He added that this is because of their culture.
Most government programs could not penetrate in their areas as there has been some kind of fear. Also, Muslim parents with PWD children are not sending their children to school anymore due to the idea that it will useless in the end.
"Being a Muslim with a disability is very difficult. We experience double discrimination," he said in vernacular.
In 2010, he started going to the different Muslim communities in the city, encouraging PWDs to learn to earn despite their situation. He founded the Mindanao Association of Muslims with Disability Inc. (MAMDI).
Rasman was a businessman before the unfortunate event happened and he used this ability to lift other people also.
Not long after, the organization grew to 300 PWD members. They started training their members with slipper-making to provide livelihood and also to sustain the organization. Each slipper was sold at P100.
With the help of the government, their production increased as the Department of Labor and Employment gave them five sewing machines and some materials. The Department of Trade and Industry also saw the need to help MAMDI and provided them a sewing machine last year for shoe-making. This advanced their skills from slippers to shoe-making.
At present, MAMDI has 500 PWD members. They sell flip flops ranging from P60 to P100, native sandals at P250, leather slippers at P450, leather sandals at P800 to P900, and leather shoes at P1,600 to P3,000.
"Each product we sell came from hard work and we can guarantee its quality. The feedback we are receiving is good at it gives us more encouragement to do better in our work," Rasman said.
"As of now, we continue with our training. In fact, we needed more people for the workforce as the demand gets higher," he added.