Surviving a Disaster with a Disability
Francisco works packaging bananas for shipment to Europe. Although he shows great dexterity at his work, he understands how difficult it is to adapt to living as disabled person without losing his self-esteem.
At the age of 23, Francisco was involved in a car accident that took the life of his brother. Francisco survived, but he lost one of his legs.
That day was the beginning of a painful psychological process of accepting his disability at such a young age.
Francisco remembers those years with sadness, "It was a terrible experience, I was in a wheelchair for months and could not help myself," he says.
Although it has been more than 10 years since Francisco lost his leg, being disabled in an emergency situation is difficult.
“During any emergency, I had to wait for someone to remember and help me,” he says.
The geographical position of the Dominican Republic means that the country is frequently exposed to floods, storms, tropical cyclones, and other risks.
“For those who have a disability there is a high chance that in an emergency they will be left behind and during an evacuation, people may forget that they are there and cannot run." says Francisco.
Plan's Sandy Project Helps the Community Rebuild and Recover
In October of last year, heavy rains caused by Hurricane Sandy resulted in flooding which destroyed homes and ruined community spaces. Using his crutches for support, Francisco managed to make it to the evacuation shelter, but he lost many of his belongings when his home was flooded.
After the hurricane, Plan began its implementation of the Sandy Project. Funded by the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission, the project supports the recovery of communities in the province of Azua, where Francisco lives.
Despite his disability, Francisco was an enthusiastic participant in the recovery activities. "I received financial support that enabled me to recover some of my material losses, but the best things I learned were about risk management which helped identify people who needed a lot of help," he says.
Zaira Pujols, Coordinator of the Sandy Project, recognized Francisco’s hard work in the disaster preparedness trainings.
“Francisco made home visits, was an active spokesman, and supported in calls to the local and regional assemblies. It was wonderful to see and confirm the importance of the integration and inclusion of people with disabilities in risk management,” she says.