Physically challenged travel abroad

Physically challenged travel abroad

On January 23, at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Urasoe, Miki Higa (center) looks forward to her first visit to the Philippines on the FLY AWAY PROJECT. Higa’s mother Rumiko (on the left), and the accompanying supporter Shino Uehara.

January 26, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Twenty five year-old Miki Higa, who was born with cerebral palsy, will visit the Philippines for a week from February 28 as the first person to go on the FLY ANAY! PROJECT. This project was established to support physically challenged individuals whose dreams are to travel abroad. The program includes a home-stay as well as exchanges with local people with disabilities. Higa is looking forward to making her first overseas trip.

Higa dreams of making friends all across the globe. She studied English at university, but was often frustrated by being asked why she did not study welfare instead because of her condition.

After graduation, Higa struggled to find a job in which she could make use of her language skills. That was when Natsuki Soda, the field coordinator of the FLY ANAY! PROJECT, came along to give Higa a supportive push. Soda also has a physical disability, and in the past she had lost hope about her future. However, her dream of working in the developing world came true because of support from her friends and family. Soda believes that there are many things that physically challenged people can achieve if there is support from society. Soda invited Higa to participate in this project.

In keeping with Higa’s request, a Japanese supporter and a local helper will accompany her during the program. All the communication will be carried out in English. Higa commented, “I would like to try to see to what extent the things I say will be understood. There are many individuals with physical disabilities who would love to go travel abroad. I hope that this opportunity for me serves as an inspiration to others, giving them hope to commit themselves to future challenges.” In the Tagalog language the expression “fly anay” means “let’s fly first.” The project aims to support physically challenged individuals aged between 18 to 25 year-old who would like to travel overseas. It was established in June of last year thanks to the joint efforts of the NPO Lequio Wings (formed by alumni of the Japan International Cooperation Agency) and the Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo, Inc. in the Philippines. They are currently asking for donations to cover the cost of travel for the accompanying supporters and payment for such assistance.

(English translation by T&CT, Kyoko Tadaoka and Mark Ealey)

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