Hello everyone ! I am Joy Pontenila of Philippine Leprosy Mission.
Late in 2018, we received a grant from Voice, for our empowerment project named Pals4 Pals. Pals means persons affected by leprosy. For this project, sixty persons were trained in the basics of public speaking as a tool for empowerment. What a coincidence that Voice would give us this grant so that persons affected by leprosy would find their voices and be their own advocates!
It was a magical moment for me to hear pals speak before a crowd. It was a transformation: from timid and tentative speakers, gradually gaining confidence through practice. At present, some of them are engaged in managing a help hotline for fellow pals. They are also maintaining their support group, Hansen’s Club, through their online group chats, which has become their lifeline during the pandemic.
One other magical moment I would like to share is my first Linking and Learn Summit in October of 2019. Together with my rights holder partner, we came to the summit not sure of what to expect since it was our first time to be in a multi-sectoral event. It was educating for us to be together with other groups with different advocacies, yet we felt at one and at home with everyone!
Linking and Learn has provided opportunities for growth and partnerships among its grantees past and present. No one has been left behind! That’s magical!