Deaf people working in Mindanao killer mines?

Happy New Year everyone! This is my first post for the year 2012!

Last Wednesday, I again accompanied my graduating students to vital government agencies to secure personal documents which they will use in applying for jobs after they graduate. MCCID has been assisting its graduating students in getting government documents for many years now.

Our first stop was getting their authenticated birth certificates from the National Statistics Office (NSO). I briefed them beforehand that I would only be there to escort them to the office and occasionally provide them some tips on how to fill up the forms. But actual applying for it would all be theirs to experience, including falling in a very long line.

landslide in a mountain in compostela valley provinceSo while waiting for them inside, a twenty-something guy approached me as I was giving instructions to my students in sign language. He taught I was also deaf so he signed to me. Surprised, I signed in return. I introduced myself politely although I hinted that he is also a hearing person. When I asked him if he can hear, he nodded. That was when we started introducing ourselves “normally”.

He begged not to disclose his full name. Being a Jehovah’s Witness exposed him to the deaf and sign language. He was at the NSO to get his birth certificate as part of the requirements in his job application.  When  he mentioned he was from Compostela Valley in Mindanao, I immediately asked him if there are deaf people working in the gold mines there. I want to know because of the recent news wherein a landslide in that province killed more than 30 persons. He claimed that there are at least five unschooled deaf adults toiling in the mines. He knew them first hand because in their religion, they are very faithful in doing house-to-house visitations to the deaf people. He was able to minister to some of them even for those who don’t know how to read and are unfamiliar with sign language. He felt sorry for them because their superiors don’t give them equal pay as compared with the regular mine workers even if they are exposed to the same dangers.

My next inquiry was if there were deaf workers who died in the recent landslide. He replied that there weren’t any deaf casualties out of the more than 30 persons who wasted their lives. This is a relief. But it’s still tragic that people, even those who cannot hear, must expose themselves to potential dangers just so they get a meager amount for their daily sustenance. I hope that the government would learn from this lesson and not to allow them to go back working in those danger zones.

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