On December 2, 2018, Tzu Chi volunteers together with some students of Pasong Tamo Elementary School and Old Balara Elementary School shared 160 pieces of cotton cushions handcrafted from recycled fabrics, old clothes, and rubber to the PWDs of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan in Cainta, Rizal.
Sore backs and tired hands pay off as Tzu Chi volunteers and students from Pasong Tamo Elementary School and Old Balara Elementary School give out their handcrafted cotton cushions to the PWDs of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (TWH) on the 2nd of December 2018. From conceptualizing intricate designs to materializing them using old clothes and rubber, it took almost 3 months for the volunteers and the students to complete 160 pieces of cotton cushions.
Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (TWH) in Cainta, Rizal was established in 1973 by Belgian nun Sr. Ma. Paula Valeriana Baerts of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The organization aims to provide services to persons with disabilities and offers programs such as training in various industries, educational assistance, physical therapy and livelihood.
Tzu Chi and TWH had long been partnering for medical and dental missions. Most of the people in TWH understood the core missions of Tzu Chi as they closely correlate to their own and one of these principles is helping others.
The volunteers had no trouble opening the short program because of the familiarity between them, but to further enhance their knowledge of their respective organizations, Project Coordinator of Finance and Fund Raising of TWH, Marites Burce and Tzu Chi volunteer Alice Chen presented brief introductions at the beginning of the program.
Proceeding with the distribution, Tzu Chi volunteer Woon Ng expounded on the process of the cushions with a video presentation of the volunteers and students explaining their own work. She also shared the inspiration she got from a long term beneficiary, and a volunteer.
“We have come to know about these cushions through a local volunteer. She was making these for a church wherein she receives payment for her effort. When we saw her works, we all thought that it looked beautiful, so we were eager to create something like that,” Ng said.
From their weekly recycling activities at Pasong Tamo Elementary School and Old Balara Elementary School , Tzu Chi receives piles of clothes and old fabrics, and to utilize these materials, Ng suggested that they could turn them into cushions. A local beneficiary who is also a PWD, introduced Tahanang Walang Hagdanan to her, “She told us that as a PWD, she sits in a wheelchair every year for 365 days, and it becomes really uncomfortable but they cannot do anything about it,” Ng said.
“When we came here to take a look, we were so inspired by them. They can work, they go on with their lives. They taught us not give up on life and because of these feelings, we all came back. We invited volunteers, and students to make the cushions for them,” Ng added.
Project Coordinator for Finance and Fund Raising of TWH, Marites Burce, 43, was diagnosed with polio at a very young age. She expressed her desire to be a volunteer because she knows Tzu Chi advocates loving others and the environment. Burce also felt lucky because her and her organization was chosen by Tzu Chi to receive the cushions.
“Not only will we be able to use this while doing our everyday tasks, but it will also provide the comfort we have been waiting for,” said Burce.
Ramon Apilado, 41, the Public Relations and Fund Raising Manager of TWH, was able to meet the volunteer that worked on his cushion. He was thankful because the cushion was just right for his size. He also knew that Tzu Chi was involved with TWH before.
“I would like to thank both the students and the volunteers who took part in making these cushions; because it’s going to help a lot of PWDs especially those on wheelchairs. I’m happy that Tzu Chi came back to give us these early Christmas gifts,” said Apilado.
Arcelle De Castro, an 11-year old Grade 5 student from Old Balara Elementary School was invited on stage to share her thoughts about her own process of making her “YOLO” cotton cushion.
“We made this in order to inspire people to not give up on life because failures can be made into lessons. The meaning of YOLO, is “You only live once,” so I want them to remember that through everything that they do in this lifetime, they should enjoy every single moment.” De Castro shared.