The first day of our pre-orientation training and it was finally all about learning about what the project is about.
We started off in GVSP, the place where services are provided for the deaf, interpreters, as well as raising awareness about deaf people. The focus was on sexual abuse. The stories that were told, I was shocked and amazed. Deaf people are an easy target here in the Philippines, simply because of their lack of education. Our job was to raise awareness, to educate the deaf about what sexual abuse really means. Whether it be a man calling you names, even the littlest of things count as sexual abuse.
Then we visited the police headquarters. The policewoman explained that they have begun a project to make services better for deaf people, as in one of the 156 police stations - there is a help desk for the deaf. We were interested and asked further questions. It turns out that it is just a volunteer at the desk, with no qualifications or anything, and for only 2 hours per day. The policewoman stated that her aim was to have that in all 156 police stations.
'What if the deaf person needed help, and it was late at night and there was no one at the help desk because they're only there for 2 hours a day?' 'Why isn't the volunteer at the help desk hearing? What if the deaf person can't communicate because they can't read or write?'
The police woman tried her best to avoid the questions and carried on waffling on about how she wants to learn FSL.
'Is there a law on equality? No discrimination?' Someone said.
'Of course there is.' She replied.
'Why aren't blind people allowed to bring their guide dogs allowed in the mall? That's discrimination.'
She blamed it on the security in the mall and said it's not the police's fault.
'Clearly your job is to make sure the public are following the law, but that cannot seem to happen if you're breaking the law yourself.' I said.
Things heated up in the room, until one Filipino volunteer finally spoke up in the room.
'My father got stabbed last month. I went to the police but no one listened or bothered to communicate with me because I am deaf. I was ignored. Why?'
Everyone froze in the room as she went on about her fathers death. The policewoman looked shocked, and asked her where and when.
See, this is clear evidence of how behind the Filipino community are. They even mentioned that the deaf are not 'physically fit' and of course, an argument blew out.
This was an interesting afternoon but after hours in the police station, she was constantly avoiding questions and we decided to go. Their views will change one day.