The one-legged carpenter

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

NOT even a physical disability can hinder a determined man.

Meonilo was only four months old when his right leg was taken from him because of a fire that razed their house.

"I grew up with one leg. I could not play like any other children. Basketball and hide and seek were never for me. But I did not grow up bitter with my situation."


To him, vision was important. Growing up, he did not mind the many eyes that would look at him with pity. When his family could not afford to send him to college, he knew that he had to learn how to earn for his future.

Meonilo, one-legged carpenter in Leyte
Meonilo (Contributed photo)

"I got interested with electronics. I would go with my father in the farm to help them earn for my formal training with electronics in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)."

After getting a certificate, he tried his luck in Manila. He knew that it was a big risk given his condition but nothing can bring a visionary down. He was able to get a job in the city and it is also in Manila that he met his wife. When his family was starting to grow, he decided to go back to Leyte.

"That was the time that I got interested with carpentry. I asked my father to mentor me until I learned the ins and outs of the work."

Meonilo has been a carpenter for more than five years now. It was, according to him, hard to get a carpentry work at first but that didn't stop him. Through the years, he earned not just better positions but he also earned the respect of his colleagues.

Meonilo, one-legged carpenter in Leyte
Meonilo and his co-workers (Contributed photo)

Everything was going well for him and his family until Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Visayas in November 2013. With maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of 275 kph, the monstrous typhoon took more than 7,000 lives and left 5.9 million workers across Visayas with either destroyed or disrupted livelihood.

"That was the worst blow I had so far. I am grateful that our house was not totally damaged but it still needs a lot of money to have it fixed. I was only earning enough."

Meonilo is one of World Vision’s Shelter Program recipients who received shelter tools and materials such as shear, hammer, hoe, pliers, handsaw, galvanized iron sheets, plywood, lumber and nails.

"I am grateful. But what I am most thankful for is the opportunity to get the National Certification for Carpentry (NCII) which I never attempted to take because I didn't have money."

The certificate comes from Tesda after testing on basic, common and core competencies of the carpenter. The skills assessment includes practical exam, interview, written test and role playing. World Vision, in partnership with the said agency, conducted carpentry training aiming to prepare the carpenters for the assessment and eventually improve the skills of the beneficiaries so they can utilize these competencies for gainful wage or self-employment.

"I was overjoyed when I learned that I passed the assessment. Who wouldn't be? Although I've proven myself for years, there are still people who would first look at my disability before my ability. With this certificate, I am more confident."

He is now working as foreman with an NGO assisting Yolanda-affected families.

For his family and colleagues, he is an inspiration.

"I am proud of my father. It must be hard for him but I admire his strength," says 17-year-old Menilo Jr., the eldest among his four children.

His co-worker adds, “He is a good leader. When we work with him, his skills, perseverance and his ability to inspire and motivate us all make us forget that he only has one leg.” (Florence Joy Maluyo/Contributor)


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