ECC’s KaGabay Program helps beneficiaries gain employment, establish own business

Robin Esquerdo-Factory Worker

Forty-one year old Robin Esquerdo, a father of four, works in a paper factory back in 2011 when he lost his left limb in a work-related accident. He was feeding paper on a roller machine when he accidentally slipped from the tool where he was standing. His left wrist and hand touched the roller and got stuck inside the machine.

He was rushed to the hospital and underwent a surgery to amputate his left hand.

He was able to get his disability benefits from both the Social Security System (SSS) and Employees’ Compensation (EC). He also underwent physical, occupational, and speech therapy under the Employees’ Compensation Commission’s KaGabay Program.

After his therapies, Esquerdo attended an entreprenurial training, another benefit he availed under the KaGabay program

With the learnings from the training and with the help of the Kabuhayan Package worth P5,000 he received from the DOLE-NCR Makati Field Office, he was also able to put up a sari-sari store.

“Malaking tulong ang naibigay ng ECC,” Esquerdo said. “Dati daing at peanut butter lang ang itinitinda naming ngayon may sari-sari store na kami,” he added.

Apart from selling grocery items, the sari sari store also offers school supplies and toys since it is situated in front of a school. With an earning of P300 per day, the family was able to pay their monthly bills and send two of their sons to school.

When asked about his goals for the future, Esquerdo said, “Gusto ko pa sanang lumago itong tindahan naming at maging grocery na”.

Jeffrey Mas-Auto Mechanic

Another KaGabay beneficiary, Jeffrey Mas figured in a motor accident while on his way to a service call. The 32-year old auto mechanic has to undergo a two-week physical and occupational therapy for his injured arm at the Phillipine General Hospital.

As beneficiary of the KaGabay Program, Mas attended a Soapmaking Class and received a Bigasan Package worth P5,000.

“Kumikita ako ng P600 kada araw. Malakas ang mga tinda kong sabon at bigas,” Mas narrates.

However, he had to close his store when his former company gave him a call and offered to hire him again as an on-call mechanic.

“Mas malaki ang kita kasi ang kada gawa ang bayad sa akin,” he explained.

He was grateful for the second chance he was given and he is determined not to waste the opportunity.

“Hanggat maaari hindi ako nag-aabsent. Ayokong mawala yung tiwala nila sa akin,”
he added.

In 2002, the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, took a proactive approach in the delivery of rehabilitation services for workers with disabilities, as a result of work-connected sickness or injury. Through the Katulong at Gabay sa mga Manggagawang may Kapansanan, or KaGabay Program, qualified workers with work-connected disabilities are evaluated and referred to various institutions for appropriate rehabilitation services which includes physical restoration, or the provision of physical and occupational therapy, prosthesis, and assistive devices, and livelihood or vocational training to help persons with work-related disabilities (PWRDs) achieve functional independence and become economically productive as they enter the mainstream.

“Since 2008, the physical restoration component of the KaGabay program has benefitted an increasing number of PWRDs with physical and occupational therapy sessions, prosthetics, and other assistive devices,” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said.

ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis states that 474 PWRDs availed of KaGabay’s physical restoration services from 2008 up to 2014 while 86 were provided with prosthesis and assistive devices amounting to P2,483,000.

On the other hand, Director Banawis also reported that in 2014, a total of 166 PWRDs underwent various livelihood and vocational training courses and business orientation seminars.

With the aim of monitoring the beneficiaries’ progress and activities, the Work Contingency, Prevention, and Rehabilitation Division of the ECC conducted 100 home visits in 2014.

“In our home visits, we found out that 40 PWRD-beneficiaries were already engaged in income-generating livelihood undertakings; nine are engaged in freelance job; another nine are planning to expand their small businesses; four are seeking employment; four are continuing physical therapy; two have returned to wage employment; while one is already employed abroad. We are happy to note that the program was able to help the PWRDs start anew,” Banawis stated.

“We are continuously finding ways on how we can further help the PWRDs to build their lives again,” Baldoz ended.

End/rhev

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