Collaborations for SDGs Catalyzed by GAIA GAYA

GAIA GAYA, a platform of making SDGs everybody’s business, invited Ms.Elyse Go, the founder of Hand and Heart as our guest sustainability leader in the 5th session held on July 18, 2020. 5 Months later, GAIA GAYA received a happy news from her, that her talk at GAIA GAYA lead to a collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines. And she contributed the article below, to share the story with us.

A Collaboration born from GAIA GAYA

by Ms. Elyse Go, Co-Founder, Hand and Hear


GAIA in Hebrew means conscious life, and this is exactly what GAIA GAYA as a group as achieved for us at Hand and Heart . Last July 18, 2020 We were invited by the team to talk about SDG 10- Reduced Inequalities being an advocate for PWD Inclusion at work and society in general. Last November 30, we got an unexpected call from Ms. Jessy Cornelia of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to be a resource speaker for their year end Wellness Summit because she encountered us at the GAIA GAYA webinar. It was indeed a day to remember for us. GAIA GAYA works – July 18 opened doors for us to spread awareness about Inclusion and Basic Sign Language to almost 70 government employees nationwide. The momentous event took place on last December 12, 2020. 

Disability Sensitivity Awareness 

To aid us in creating awareness, we invited our partner in the advocacy – Project Inclusion Network represented by their Executive Director Mr. Grant Javier and Work Access Coordinator Ms. Angela Santiago-Camacho. At the heart of InclUSion is US has always been the emphasis of the NGO. Their main purpose is access to work opportunities for Persons with Disability. Mr. Grant Javier shed light on some of the common misconceptions such as incorrect use of terms for persons with disability such as – mongoloid, abnormal, Deaf and Mute . He also presented best practices of some companies that has hired Persons with Disability as well as the proper way of handling them during interviews and in the workplace plus reasonable accommodations in integrating PWDs in the offices. To date, Project Inclusion Network has supported almost 2000 PWDs in Job readiness, facilitation, training, development and livelihood. 

Deaf Awareness and Basic Sign Language

Our social enterprise, Hand and Heart, took second half of the morning’s workshop by focusing on awareness about the Deaf Culture. It’s Deaf Co-Founder and General Manager shared some Do’s and Don’t, how to communicate plus common misconception . Som of which – To refer to the Deaf with a big letter D as a symbol of their identity having a unique language and culture, or that the commonly used works of the Filipinos “pipi” is unacceptable explaining that the Deaf has a voice box hence they are not Deaf and Mute. She also made emphasis on the Deaf culture of being frank, honest and tells the truth as well as the various talents they an do same as the hearing people such as drive and dance, film , poetry, and many others. The fun part came as Ms. Diokno taught Basic Sign Language to the DTI employees covering Alphabet, Numbers and commonly used phrases in the workplace. The workshop was ended with Sign Language Performances by DTI employees. 

As Hand and Heart, our hearts were really full of joy to have been made great awareness in this form. Again, truly grateful on how the seed that GAIA GAYA has planted grow and paved opportunities like this for our advocacy. GAIA is conscious life indeed.

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This is the re-cap of GAIA GAYA Session # 5 with Elyse 🙂