The Tacloban Persons with Disabilities Multi-Purpose Cooperative, or TAPDICO, located in barangay Abucay of Tacloban City, is a government-run program that employs about 30 people with mental, physical, and/or sensory impairments. Their job is to build armchairs for schools, from start to finish.
This past week, Volunteer for the Visayans began sending volunteers to TAPDICO, working wherever need be. Tyler, from the United States, was the first volunteer to be sent and spent his first day sanding wood that would become the seat of an armchair.
The process of building a single armchair, which on average takes 30 minutes, involves welding, cutting wood, sanding and painting. The staff of TAPDICO produces two types of armchairs. A steel and wood combination is available, and can be fabricated entirely at their workshop in Abucay. For the steel and plastic combination, they weld the steel into a frame, and send it to Manila to be finished with plastic. Armchairs are then distributed to various schools in the area.
Often times the National Council on Disability Affairs contracts out TAPDICO, giving the program a certain number of chairs to complete within a specific deadline. A long-term goal of VFV’s involvement with TAPDICO is to also provide these types of contracts. Employees are paid depending on output for each week.
Gemalyn states, “ We want to show people that being disabled does not mean you have to live on the streets. It is possible to still be self-reliant.”
She adds, “Because they’ll know the chairs they are studying on are built by people with disabilities, we hope to encourage students to work harder in school.”
While the furniture built is impressive, the most inspiring aspect of TAPDICO is its people. Forced to work considerably harder due to their impairments, makes the project and its products all the more noteworthy.
*Written by Courtney Cunningham, media intern from the US