Jessica Cox visits REBUILD Project

Officers of the Baras Federation of Persons with Disabilities Association welcome Jessica Cox to Baras, Rizal. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Officers of the Baras Federation of Persons with Disabilities Association welcome Jessica Cox to Baras, Rizal. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

After giving encouragement to victims of typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban City and Eastern Samar, renowned armless pilot Jessica Cox met with people with disabilities in Baras, Rizal on March 5.

The 31-year-old Filipino-American talked to five beneficiaries of Handicap International’s REBUILD Project. The project aims to empower people with disabilities by facilitating their access to various livelihoods and social services. It also works with the local government and organizations of persons with disabilities in advocating for an inclusive society.

Edna Santiago, who has only one hand and was among the beneficiaries whom Jessica met, received from HI livelihood kits and a temporary shelter in 2009. Now a widow, she has applied for a loan through the REBUILD Project. The money will be used as capital in setting up a small store, she said. Photo by Molly Feltner / Handicap International

Edna Santiago, who has only one hand and was among the beneficiaries whom Jessica met, received from HI livelihood kits and a temporary shelter in 2009. Now a widow, she has applied for a loan through the REBUILD Project. The money will be used as capital in setting up a small store, she said. Photo by Molly Feltner / Handicap International

The REBUILD Project also serves as a follow-up to HI’s emergency response to the typhoons which devastated the area in 2009.

“It is amazing to see Handicap International’s long-term investment in people with disabilities in the Philippines following disasters,” Jessica said. “I saw HI’s emergency work in Tacloban, and heard many people who were feeling uncertain about their futures and were hoping to find employment so they can rebuild their lives. In Baras, I saw how HI is rebuilding lives and teaching people with disabilities business skills, and connecting them with loans and employment opportunities. In a way, HI’s coming in to a community is the silver lining of these typhoons.”

Funded by Swiss Solidarity and the European Union – and in partnership with the Baras Federation of Persons with Disabilities Associations Inc., Local Government Unit of Baras, Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, SEED Center Philippines, and Entrepreneurs du Monde – the REBUILD Project strives to support 250 families in Baras. Together these organizations help provide the economic, social, and psychosocial needs of the beneficiaries, who may be people with disabilities, elderly persons, or single women who head their households.

Before she visited the beneficiaries, Jessica Cox also met with the town officials led by Baras Mayor Kathrine Robles. The mayor surprised Jessica with a brass band and a welcoming program on her arrival at the Municipal Hall. They also had a brief discussion on the REBUILD Project’s work with the local government.

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