I am moving to my own space …

My dear friends,

I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of owning my domain name (www.dhidhak.com). Since going back home to recover from my accident, writing had kept me company and got me through overthinking about my situation.

It was not a natural phase for me, I’ve never been home sick this long. It was made worse by being stuck at home with limited opportunity to move until very recently. But having something to do like writing kept me sane and out of bed most days.  Now that everything is getting back to normal (and in shape) I decided to be more serious with this hobby and share more of my adventures to the world.

I am still debating in my head how to shape my new virtual space, what trend and train of thoughts I should follow as you know the world is changing and it’s changing fast. I want to be braver in putting my thoughts in writing. I want to engage more people in issues that matter. At the same time, I have lots of memories to remember, reminisce and share.

So maybe I will let time help me shape it.

downloadPlease visit http://www.dhidhak.com to read on my new posts. It is a personal blog space. I use my name and share more of me and my thoughts as Dhidhak rather than Coolasas. But I am not altogether abandoning this blog. There will be a link to this site under Dee Old Blog to keep all my old posts intact; you can continue to visit this site. Some of my old posts would be re-blogged in the new site when I feel like they needed another day in the sun.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for putting up with my random thoughts in the last five years. You don’t know how much you kept me well-balanced while in my adventures overseas. In places where not many may have the opportunity to thread. You kept me company when I don’t have anyone to even speak to, to share my frustrations and my crazy thoughts. For looking at my photos and reading my poetry. Maraming Salamat!

I hope to see you on the other side … visit Dhidhak anytime.

#WorldPeace  #NoToWar  #CiviliansAreNotTargets

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Declutter

Holy week … a momentous time for us Catholic to look in our lives and measure how we lived it and shared it with others.

This time two years ago I experienced walking in the path where Jesus had trodden from Palm Sunday until Easter Sunday. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I felt so blessed.

Now I am home, not of my choosing but because of my injuries I have to stay and recuperate. I look at this as an opportunity to sort out my life in the last year or years. To try to make sense of why this happened to me and see if I can make heads or tails of all the negative thoughts I had about moving to Tunisia that finally had caught on me – breaking my leg forcing me to leave the country early and head home where I know I am loved. But not until I had enough time to settle in and meet good people that eventually helped me prepare for the imminent departure.

God has a way of preparing our path to happiness … he didn’t say it’s easy nor said will be hard. He has a way of making us get through with whatever was going on.

So to find myself in all of what had happened to me I need to declutter and see if I left my old self at the bottom, or I need to reinvent myself and be back on top of the pile.

We shall see …

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Daily Prompt: Swallow

Bouts of frustrations, boredom and a little bit of self-pity

My road to recovery is an uphill battle.

I haven’t even made attempts to do it without my trusted aircast. And today I felt I have to do a little step back and nurse my pain. I am trying hard to get better faster, but I guess this pain is telling me to take it easy!

One would think that just because I do care for people with injuries all my life I know how it feels and can predict my progress.

That is not the case.

No matter how long or how much I know about fracture and post-injury care it didn’t prepare me to become a patient. The encouragement I tell people I teach and treat doesn’t work that easily especially if I am the o

ne telling it to myself.

It also didn’t prepare me mentally.

There are times when I only want to do is lie in bed with my leg up. Binge on my favourite tv series or keep buying ebook finishing one after the other. While at the back of my mind I made promises I need to keep.

it’s hard to shake off, the feeling of you want to be in control and be more active but you just5 don’t do it. Then at night, you regret the day passed without so much accomplishment made. That’s my struggle every night and I guess from experience my frustrations are not easily understood especially if you’re not in my cast.

I am down my two-months mark after my accident and surgery. Two-months being home. I am starting to have a crush on my doctor and spill my life story to my therapist. Not that they are not friendly people, on the contrary, they are my only excuse for having a social life lately and my after therapy visit to drive thru joints before heading home.
Do you think I am getting bored?

It’s just that its different from my previous homecoming, by now I could have been in places with friends and families. I just don’t do anything, I don’t have the energy to organise besides with the kind of adventures I have in mind, with my cast, it will entirely be in slow motion.

But I have to say, it is not all negative, I made progress too. Apart from I can don on and off my own socks and boots, I become more independent doing my activities of daily living and self-care.

So there is hope for me, I can’t wait to be back on the road again, here there and everywhere!

Accessible Transport Begins with the One In-charge of Driving Them

One challenge most PWD have accessing services is the lack of transport and if there are available means, often are not accessible. Most of the time I argue that “in the real world” without external help from NGO people just have to deal with what is there because once they leave, funds run out, people will just have to deal with the reality and make the decision to win over it and access the services or let it win over them and be miserable.

The Philippines one of the first country to have disability law, long before I was born (or maybe I am just a baby), and many other neighboring countries in SEA copied that and adapted in their own culture and context.

But let’s be honest, our respect for people with disabilities still very low. The law does not reflect that in the way our public services are run in this country – people with injuries, disabilities, elderly and other vulnerable groups are second-hand citizens who have to keep pushing and fighting to get to the front of the row and be heard. We’re making some long overdue development but not in the area of public transport.

With my current situation, I am hanging by the “estribo” and observing how a simple visit to the hospital can be a big production.

Before I get carried away, let me re-tell here a little bit of my accessibility and transport challenge and share a few insights on how situations can be improved.

So, when I arrived in the Philippines, coming from a 24-hour journey, around 10,000 kilometers away, I was picked up by a van whose driver doesn’t know how to help me get in from my wheelchair. Which was an insult to the amount of care I had from the hospital to the airport to the plane until I deplane in the Philippine airport.

I just told my sister, 5 weeks post-injury and surgery that no amount of experience in rehabilitation, teaching, demonstrating and grading students prepared me to be a patient but in the case of the last stretch to home – that experience helped a lot!

The airport support staffs are not trained to handle people with disabilities and doesn’t know how to do handling and trasnfers. My teaching skills helped a bit, giving simple instructions how to position the chair when I transfer seats because I don’t want to have more injuries.

Having been pampered from the first and second leg of the journey, my expectations of the third and last leg would be exceptional, simply because it’s home and I pride myself on being Filipino – we go the extra mile! But I was mistaken.

My injury is not life-threatening and I received the best care possible, so there really was no need to be fuzzy and feeling special. But after a long journey, in a cast, I was ready to collapse and be lifted by my family that will receive me at home to bed. Instead, I have to struggle to go in a van using my butt again and endangering my leg hitting the ground in case I lost my grip.

The driver of the van doesn’t know how to help me get in. I was expecting my pick-up to be similar to the ones I had in Tunisia or at least it was meant to pick-up passenger like me and drivers have training on how to handle situation like mine.

Practiced what I preached, I sucked it up and made the situation work for me, anyway in a couple of hours I will be in my family home. In the end, the driver was nice, he drove well and he was not properly briefed, so why shot the messenger.

That experience was a month ago, I am over it but I have to take a cue on my experience to drive a point on the issue of accessible transport at the same time upgrading the skills of our drivers.

I don’t drive myself, but if I do, I would undergo a first-aid training to be prepared in events of an accident and in my case, to at least know how to handle people in delicate situations. If I do a survey now and ask how many of the drivers in my village knows CPR or how to carry someone or what not to do in cases of accident, I will have a lot of success finding how many DO NOT know that those who do.

Proper transfer technique, from the wheelchair or any assistive device to cars, bus, train even plane and in the Philippines to jeepney (that is something to think about) is a good skill to have. One reason why drivers don’t care about PWD and the elderly is that they don’t understand our (the disabled part not the elderly!) situation, we should make them understand by training them simple transfer technique so they will feel useful and helpful.

Last but not least, and the most important is to require drivers to have a mandatory re-examination of the traffic rules and regulations and their driving skills at fairly regular intervals – five years maybe?.

I don’t know if it will increase accessibility to transport but what I do know is that it will increase peoples understanding of disability, increase their compassion towards their fellow-men and appreciate their abilities by providing them the opportunity to be mobile and the road will be safer if drivers are more responsible.

Key To Happiness In Your Job Is To Work With Passion

I’m officially jobless and at the moment disabled. So you can say I have time on my hands, so I am going to update my blog site.

Actually, I still have work to finish for my last mission, but I am happy to finally break-free from the so-called “cursed” mission and will start fresh as a consultant. I am not at liberty to talk about the mission itself (this being a public platform) nor of the people I worked with. But the reason some of us called it a cursed mission was because of the strings of misfortune it had during the year, the stress level can be through the roof and of course my unfortunate accident in the place that I had misgivings to move from the moment it was offered to me.

In fact, the moved to Tunisia made me realized how badly my position and myself was regarded by those I thought to believe in what I do, but I forged ahead because more than myself, the people we help needed better services  as a consequence of war more than the accident that happened that brought me back to my parents home. I remembered something that was told to me last December.

A wise man told me “you deserve to be in an organization that celebrates your achievements and appreciates all that you’ve done”.

I trusted the guy, though we met only a couple of times, the meeting was always very productive. I guess he was able to see the efforts we put into what we were doing, he appreciated me as a person and saw my passion and wit in all the interactions we had. And acknowledged what our team had done in the country in spite of the context and the challenges we had to face.

While at the same time, my organization was ready to drop me by threatening me because I couldn’t accept to live in a house not livable according to my standards and to the cost they are willing to pay.

 

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I don’t mind living in tents when necessary than a house shoved your throat because of its procedure

 

There are thankless job around and being a humanitarian aid worker can be one of them. I say that from experience because there are a lot of things that happen within the scope of this work that is hard to explain.

How many of my friends really understand what I do? Unless they worked with me directly, they will not know that sometimes I write procedures that nobody would care to follow or I give advice that has no guarantee it will even be considered.

We only see the surface of the crisis once reported in the news, but we don’t know the aftermath of it, the effect on the people that before are progressive and because of the war or calamity become vulnerable.

They would not know the amount of work needed to get things off the ground, the get services accessible, the number of negotiations and paper works required to get access to funds to keep our work going, and many more.

 

Olive harvest in Gaza is a form of inclusion activities

 

How many people understand the word vulnerable? Not many, because most of us are consumed with our own problem that we don’t see beyond them and feel for others who have more significant issues than most of us.

We sometimes live in a bubble that when it burst we don’t know what to do next. Well the people I encounter didn’t ask to be vulnerable, their situation made them, that’s why I don’t accept the reactions of Europe to the migration crisis happening from the Middle East to Africa and Myanmar.

In my organization, we kept talking about inclusion, in fact, they even changed their name to it because they said it reflects more their values than its current name (which somehow I agree) if only people really understand how inclusion works. How it is translated into viable action, resulting in sustainable change.

It is hard, it is thankless, but despite the non-understanding and misunderstanding, I continue to do what I do. Because early in my career, I made a promise to myself that I will do this because I believed that this is what God wants me to do – to build lives including mine, one brick at a time.

I also decided to only do my best and with passion even if the best that I know is underappreciated or not even considered at all as long as the end results improvement in the lives of the people that really matter. Passion is another subject hard to measure or quantify. I cannot explain it as clear as I could especially to friends who already told me to quit but I wouldn’t, and I leave it at that.

So even with my current state – being confined to home strapped to my cast, not able to move with our personal assistance, I am happy that I had contributed something to the work done in my last mission. My friends keep telling me it’s a sign that I have to slow down and force myself to rest now that my contracts finish and take time to think about my future.

Planning Without You Knowing It

Having dinner one night the guy I am seeing asked me a very serious question “how is your life?” followed by more profound question “are you happy?”. Not understanding, I asked back what he meant by those questions, which he elaborated by asking what my plans are? Knowing myself, I gladly obliged and listed my plans at least for the next five or so years.

Curious, I asked back about his plans and having a slight idea of what he will answer me, he simply said: “I have no plans … just wake up, go to work and come home tired and the day repeats.”  Then he went on saying he likes to live in a small house in front of the beach so he can just swim all day and fish for food.

I asked about money, and said: “I don’t need money, will just have to use some of the fish in exchange for what I will need.” The conversation eventually led for him to tell me he will raise sheep for meat and milk, and he will get at least two sheep every year and give it to people in exchange for anything he needs, even sex. Well, I guess the last part was a bit of a stretch, but then I told him, “you just laid out your plans without you knowing them.” And he was quiet.

For some people, planning is daunting especially if you don’t have all the cards in a row, situation and life circumstances can easily thwart well thought out plans, but that’s just how it is. When it happens, you just go back to the beginning and start over or start from where you left off.  Haci, the guy I am seeing (he insisted I put his name because he said he has one), knew well that when I say something or schedule an outing, it can change at the last minute. There are times he will just go along and wait until it happens. That means the world around me – mostly my work evolve and I go along as it does and try to be sane until I get to where I need to be.

But in spite of the uncertainties, it is good to know what you will do tomorrow or the day after or next week, month and years. It gives you a little bit of guidance where you’re heading, and like Haci he thinks he doesn’t make a plan, but he does.

I know that he wants to start his wedding dress design studio or shop abroad, but he also knows he’s not yet ready. He uses his current work to get as much training and experience as he could including learning how to saw using the high-speed machine to eventually do what he wants in the future. Because I know eventually he will not want to work for someone, instead, he wants to be on his own, earning his own keeps and gaining good reputations for his creations, and I know too that he has a way of achieving them we just don’t think alike for him to believe me. In his mind, it’s not a plan, they are just thoughts because the opportunity presents itself.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, so next time when someone asks me what I want to do in my life, I’ll remember the small house by the beach with sheep in the other room.

Adjustments to the realities of war and violence

Death is the ultimate price to pay in war or in any situation that involves violence.

But what if you didn’t die when exposed to the cruelty of the world? That person ends up disabled changing the dynamics of his or her life and of the lives of the people around them. Especially those closes to him or her whose coping with the change also affects their being starting from their psyche.

I call it the ripple effect as a consequence of trauma.

The impact of disability, which brings change to the person himself is too much. It is life changing, altering everything he worked all his life for. Everything that they know is normal is altered forever. In their mind, more often than not their lives are over, and with that thought, it is often difficult to convince people of the alternatives. that life continues with some accommodations to start over and build a new reality.

Like in any situation of trauma, people with disabilities undergo the process of grief and acceptance. No one can do it alone, help should be available when traumatic events happen in one’s life.

The assurance that “you are not alone” should be there to see the person through the initial shock of the new reality of being alive and of being different.

The difference should be a part when the person learns to accept that it does not change anything more than the appearance. His or her mental health should be considered immediately to allow reality to set in with less dramatic effect on his understanding of his or her new person. Accepting together with him or her would be the closest people in his life because, like rearing children, acceptance of change is a “village”.

Not knowing what is there for him or her, and for them further traumatizes the person’s mind and body that is why it is important that during emergencies, psychological first aid – counseling is available and accessible to all.

Mental health support is for all the people that surround him or her as it will buoy them over to the new reality of their lives and prepare for their environment. This is accompanying immediate medical and physical support to get the person back on his or her feet and start to follow the process until a new life, an accepted reality is reached empowering the person himself and those around him into continue living because at least that they can do something about it.

No one support is more important – be it physical, medical or mental health support. We have to look at the person and acknowledge that what s/he needs is a holistic approach to allow full and complete recovery and continue to be part of the environment with the support of the people around them, equally able to adjust to the new life brought on by senseless war and violence in our world.

#NoMoreWar

Oh Dear It’s Been Six Months!

What would you do if someone come and complained she doesn’t understand what her team is doing when they go to the field and she’s in her job for 6 months now?

This is a serious question.

I get this far too often these days, and I don’t know what to do with the person asking. She’s been hired as a program manager with only 2 people under her supervision which should be easy and we all started at the same time, 6 months ago!

She’s claimed to have worked in the community before joining the team and knows her way around management, so there should be no problem. But there is, and I am getting tired of the same old question and complaints. To think that I have no direct relation with this person made the issue even more annoying and compelling at the same time.

To think that I have no direct relation with this person made the issue even more annoying and compelling at the same time because they all come up to me and ask, complain and whine (for the others involved).

I don’t want to come across as someone very nasty, but sometimes, I question our hiring process – why do we hire these kinds of people? That after 6 months on the job still seems like they just started – doesn’t know anything even if I am aware of the fact that she has all the information.

This is not very progressive, and it’s making me angry.

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In my line of work, I come across all kinds of people. I am mostly patient and tolerant because I was a newbie once in my life so I know how it is to venture into humanitarian work. It can be like “pressure cooker” but only if you let pressure gets to you and this project, it shouldn’t be one of those.

That is why I am confused … maybe you can help me.