They may be challenged, but they are capable.

An enterprise in Carmona, Cavite is empowering persons with disability (PWDs) by giving them an opportunity to earn decent income.

The Kilusang Kabalikat ng mga may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan (4K) was formed to help PWDs and give them a fair chance to participate in the society.

“4K was established for parents with children of special needs,” explained May Capili, current president of the group, which started in 2009.

“After studying SPED (Special Education), our children can work here since it’s been a struggle for people like them to find jobs outside,” May explained.

Kilusang Kabalikat ng mga may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan President May Camili poses with the bags created by the members of 4K, who are mostly Persons with Disabilities

The Persons with Disabilities Coordinating Office (PWDCO), now known as Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) of the municipality of Carmona, established 4K to ensure that its alumni would have a suitable and inclusive work placement after they graduate at the SPED center. Through their livelihood programs and activities, children and adults with autism or other impairments create handmade products from recycled materials and sell it to local and international buyers.

“We make bags, papier-mâché, coin banks, ref magnets, key chains, and decors of all sorts,” May said adding that these are all handmade by PWDs.

May mentioned that their PWD members are generally easy to work with as long as they are given guidance in each step.

4K has also been receiving warm support from different sectors with some even giving financial assistance. Donors also give the group raw materials such as shredded papers, magazines, old denims, telephone directories and others that can be used for their production.

While their workers were doing well in the production side, marketing each item was not easy. May shared that the materials were made from recycled materials, many had an impression that the products were just pieces of trash. But she admitted that when the group was still starting, they were uncertain of the target market for such products.

Some of the materials to be used to create the bags

A Kilusang Kabalikat ng mga may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan member working on a pattern or padron for a bag

Helping Hands

Since marketing was a big challenge, the 4K team then decided to reach out to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Representatives of 4K underwent the Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) Program which helped them understand the basics of running a business. Since marketing the products was the biggest challenge, 4K members took special attention to the seminars and workshops on marketing. On the side, they also learned how to communicate with clients effectively, which was a great challenge for almost everyone in the group.

DTI’s Shared Service Facilities (SSF), meanwhile, provided 4K with sewing machines that helped them improve their production. DTI also introduced 4K to various product innovations.

“If it weren’t for DTI’s programs and invitations to trade fairs, we would never realize the potential of our products and to whom we could sell those,” May said.

A person with disability painstakingly works on the recycled materials for 4K's handicrafts

Kilusang Kabalikat ng mga may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan President May Camili joins the PWDs in their workshop

Next Steps

4K currently has more than 100 members, and they continue to work together to reach a wider market and improve themselves.

“Whenever, I see the sparks in their eyes, you can really feel how dedicated they are in their work,” May said, “Our products aren’t just made by hands; these are all from the heart,” she added.

Moving forward, May hopes to give their workers a comprehensive employee benefit package.

Aside from helping one another discover their respective abilities, 4K members are also going out of their way to empower other marginalized members of the society. They have been providing livelihood trainings for prison inmates, giving them a chance to earn income. In a way, this opportunity gives them the chance to become productive while behind bars.

As for the expansion plans, May shared that they have been spending time and effort in studying and assessing the international market. She said tapping the international market could bring in additional income for their members and would allow them to help more PWDs as well.

Bags hand-crafted by the Persons with Disabilities under Kilusang Kabalikat ng mga may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan