(Edited Press Release)
Not too many companies in the country are even entertaining the idea of opening doors of opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs). But there are a few commendable ones that are not just recognizing the talent and skills of such people but also giving them the chance for employment.
Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI), a poultry integrator business and member of the County Fresh Group of Companies, is one of those few companies who provide equal opportunities to all qualified job candidates, including PWDs.
BAVI believes that hiring PWDs brings about advantages to employers and other employees. That is why it has teamed up with Unilab Foundation for Project Inclusion, a program helping PWDs obtain and sustain employment in actual work settings and at the same time provide them renewed hope and confidence.
In line with this partnership, BAVI shares the inspiring stories of two talented and skilled PWDs who are currently employed by the company.
Aljune Atok suffers from visual impairment, having completely lost sight in his left eye. Despite his condition, the 26-year-old has found work at BAVI and has been a junior programmer in the information systems department for nearly a year.
Atok grew up in Leyte. After earning his college degree and finishing with Latin honors, he went to Manila to find a good paying job. He recounts that at first, he had to face the fear of discrimination.
However, Atok did not allow this fear to hamper his goal of landing a permanent job with regular pay. Through his perseverance and determination, he was endorsed by a former superior to Project Inclusion, which later on brought him to BAVI.
“What we admire most about Aljune is his attitude towards work. He goes to work every day, eager to learn more and develop new skills,” shared Senior Supervisor Alistair Javillonar. He added that the team is inspired by Atok’s behavior and they believe in his ability to perform beyond his disability.
Recently, Atok participated in Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually-Impaired’s (ATRIEV) very first hackathon for the blind where his team won second place when they redesigned the website of the Philippine Military Academy to make it accessible to the blind.
Overcoming hearing impairment, Donna Tolentino graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Graphics from the De La Salle College of St. Benilde. She is currently one of BAVI’s finance assistants.
“I felt excited and a bit nervous when I was invited for interview at BAVI. There were many fears. However, I’ve easily overcome those with the help of my colleagues and superior,” Donna recounts.
“It delights me that there are organizations like BAVI which are open to accepting someone like me to be one of their employees,” she added.
Finance Assistant Manager Mae Jane Adem, who is one of Tolentino’s superiors, notes her (Tolentino) optimism towards work that motivates the entire team as well. “She is very detailed and careful when making reports and that is something we appreciate,” she said.
Consequently, Adem’s team is now more aware about deafness. Now, almost all their team members know basic sign language, which enables them to communicate better with Tolentino.
BAVI’s support for PWDs
“We believe that each person has something unique to offer for the progress of the company. What others see as disabilities, we see as something extraordinary that can someday help us reach our goals,” said Ronald Mascariñas, BAVI president and general manager. “At BAVI, we are always open to giving chances to individuals who have chosen to rise over their disabilities to become company assets.”
Going beyond just providing fresh oven-roasted chickens to households, BAVI wants to make Filipinos become part of something meaningful. As a step in that direction, they hope that their partnership with Unilab Foundation will enable them to give more PWDs a chance at a better future by providing them full-time, sustainable jobs.