The COVID-19 pandemic that swept the globe this year has changed the world as we know it, bringing with it significant economic, health and social challenges to the Asia Pacific region where Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (YPII) runs a large project entitled ‘WASH and Beyond: Transforming Lives in Eastern Indonesia’, with support from Plan International Australia and the Australia Government’s Water for Women (WfW) Fund.
With the pause of several industries in Indonesia, including manufacturing, tourism, transportation, trade, and construction, many people have been let go from their employment and countless businesses have closed or are struggling to stay afloat. YPII’s WfW project, including the DPOs the project supports, have seen first-hand how badly COVID-19 is impacting the livelihoods of people with disabilities:
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the massage business which employs groups of people with disabilities has been completely closed. We do not have any source of income, because no one dares to come for a massage for fear of contracting the virus” said Baiq Hadijah (Head of Samawa Disability Persons Organisation).
Despite a very challenging year, people with disabilities are not letting themselves be discouraged by the current conditions. Many are in fact responding in remarkable ways during a time of adversity. Despite the closure of their massage business, they have adapted quickly to become mask-making entrepreneurs. YPII has been supporting the group in this new business venture:
“There are several people with disabilities who have the ability to sew, have tried to pioneer the business of making masks. Initially for our own needs, but including many requests from outsiders. The most orders are currently coming from Yayasan Plan International Indonesia, which ordered 1,440 masks with 3 layers of cotton fabric according to the Ministry of Health’s recommendation” said Baiq Hadijah.
This has proved mutually beneficial for both the people with disabilities involved in the project and YPII. The masks ensure YPII staff can continue to undertake their frontline COVID-19 response (which had previously been challenging due to mass shortages in PPE) and the people with disabilities involved are now earning an income. This partnership is helping many stay employed and stay protected during an uncertain time.
Throughout the crisis the project has also been working with people with disabilities and supporting them to understand and advocate their rights. This has included training in water and sanitation, gender equality and social inclusion. YPII’s disability-inclusive response has ensured people with disabilities are included and able to enjoy their human rights during the COVID-19 crisis, paving the way for a more inclusive future.
Author: Jatmoko who works as Yayasan Plan International Indonesia WfW project’s Provincial Project Coordinator in NTB province. (Story edited from Water for Women website)