Empowering Women: ER Helps Gina Triumph Over Jeepney Accident

The following story is one of ER’s Empowering Women blogs that highlight the journeys of women overcoming extreme circumstances to become successful leaders in their families and communities.

Early in 2017, an ER outreach team found 46-year-old Gina Tublog selling candies and cigarettes on the sidewalk from her wheelchair. Anne Benevidez, director of ER’s Golden Hands Livelihood Educational program, had met Gina many years prior to her accident, before she was disabled. Now, years later, Anne encountered Gina during one of ER Asia’s community outreaches.

Gina had been hit by a jeepney during a storm and flood in Manila. The large bus-like vehicles transport passengers through the crowded streets of Manila and can be dangerous for those working in the streets.

The accident left Gina unable to walk. Since then her life has been an incredible struggle. Married and a mother of four children, the family is homeless and works on the streets to survive. Her husband drives a pedicab, their main source of lincome, but it is not enough to afford a home. Her kids are ages 13, 11, 9 and 4.

“Physical disabilities are not a hindrance for someone to learn a new skill,” Anne said. “I have seen this in the life of Gina, a mother who lives on the street with her family. I previously met Gina before she became disabled, a long time in the past. But when I saw her again, she was sitting on an old wheelchair.

“Gina’s accident damaged the bone of her left foot.  Because of her, poverty she doesn’t have the means to undergo a therapy that injured her left foot. Without the therapy, she limped and her leg became shorter after several years.”

“Following our community outreach in January of 2017, Gina joined us as we were teaching some women living on the street how to make round rags and how to weave rags. She became interested in learning to weave, so we gave her some materials and fabrics.

“After some time, Gina was making colorful rags. We were so encouraged by her diligence and determination as she weaved rags under a mango tree.

“To reward her determination, we gave her a brand new wheelchair and a walker so she could stand and walk using her right foot. She was teary eyed when our Golden Hands group surprised her with the gifts. The gifts made her even more encouraged to weave the colorful rags.

“Gina did not just learned how to weave rags, but is able to sell them. Because she was weaving on the street many people saw what she was making and they started to order rags from her. She now has established regular customers and a lot of people are still ordering from her. The demand is high that she can’t even supply all of them anymore!

“We encouraged Gina not just to learn how to weave rags, we challenge her to learn the skill of sewing too. In June she enrolled in our third Golden Hands training group. We were already on our fifth week of training. But we quickly saw Gina’s dedication as she caught up and surpassed many of the nine other ladies in her sewing class. There are times when she finishes her projects first before the other women. She can even sew better than many who have no disability!”

Next March, Gina will join the other program participants as they graduate. They will make their own dresses for graduation ceremony and receive a certificate of completion and a new sewing machine. This will allow her to generate income for her family.

Until then, Gina also is hoping family can save enough to rent a small home. Currently, the family is squatting on  a privately owned space without a roof and they can be evicted at any time.

“Gina has proven to herself and us that with a dedicated and determined heart, physical disability is not a hindrance to learn new skills. She is gaining a livelihood that can help her earn extra income for herself and her family.”

Gina dreams she will be able to send all her kids to school and have a safe place to stay for her family. ER welcomes volunteers and donors who want to volunteer with us or provide scholarships for women like Gina. Learn more about Golden Hands here.

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