The UNICEF (2019) tells us that access to safe and clean water and sanitation facilities is everyone’s basic right, including persons with disabilities (PWDs), and the lack of it can have severe consequences on their well-being—especially at this time of the pandemic.
Advocating accessible and inclusive WASH, Manila Water Foundation (MWF) together with the Department of Health and ABS-CBN’s Iba ‘Yan program hosted by Angel Locsin, is pleased to partner with Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, a non-profit organization based in Cainta, Rizal providing services to persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Since hand hygiene is a basic defense against COVID-19, handwashing facilities are much-needed particularly at this time of the pandemic. To help provide access to WASH, Manila Water Foundation turned over a PWD-friendly handwashing facility at Tahanang Walang Hagdanan on October 27.
The handwashing facility is built with three faucets, having two lowered sinks for easier access, soap containers, and signages about COVID-19 precautionary measures, proper handwashing, and responsible use of water. Along with the ones built under the WASH in Pandemic program, the handwashing facility at Tahanang Walang Hagdanan features a “hybrid” design: two faucets allow PWDs to turn the faucet on via lever through hand or elbow, and another faucet with same manual lever and with foot pedal. There is also a one-meter distance between faucets to observe physical distancing.
For 45 years now, Tahanang Walang Hagdanan has been improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities (PWDs), especially the orthopedically impaired. They provide training, education and mobility assistance, and livelihood on metalcraft, woodcraft, sewing and packaging. With this, several trainees and visitors enter their compound.
Angelita Evangelista, Chief Operations Officer of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, said that the facility’s location by the gate is strategic since people entering the institutions would be encouraged to wash their hands first. “Tamang tama, malapit sa gate. So, pagpasok ng mga tao diyan—before na dumiretso sila doon [sa workshops]—dito muna sila para maghugas ng kamay (It’s near the gate so when people enter it—before they proceed to the workshops—they stop here to wash their hands first),” she said. “Malaking bagay po ito sa amin kasi napakaraming tao ang nagtratrabaho dito—Pati ‘yung mga bumibisita—Para ‘pag nakahalubilo namin, alam na alam namin na safe (This is a huge help for us since many people work and visit here. When we speak with them, we know it’s safe),” she added.
During the turnover, MWF also conducted a hygiene education session on the importance and the seven steps to proper handwashing in line with the celebration of Global Handwashing Day, observed last October 15.
Reiterating the value of handwashing as a defense against the spread of diseases, she shared,“Kahit naka-mask ka, mas mahalaga pa rin daw na maghugas ng mga kamay. Napakaganda po nito kasi maibabahagi namin sa aming mga pamilya at mga kakilala namin. Maibabahagi namin yung kaalaman sa paghuhugas ng mga kamay. (Even though you are wearing a mask, it is still important to wash our hands. This is very nice since this will help us share this to our family and friends. We can share about the importance of washing our hands).”
Aside from the handwashing facility and the hygiene education session, MWF also delivered gallons of disinfecting alcohol from PHILUSA Corporation, to ensure a comprehensive approach in developing better hand hygiene habits.
This initiative is under the WASH in Pandemic program, which aims to deliver WASH interventions to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond this partnership, MWF is eager to do more and help bring hand hygiene for all.