MIUSA Alumni Paving the Way for Deaf Rights in the Philippines

A MIUSA delegation of women with and without disabilities pose for a photo in Jordan
A MIUSA delegation visitis Jordan (Sarah Houge center in white t-shirt)
Why get involved with MIUSA? Why journey outside of your comfort zone? There’s no single answer. Maybe you want to: follow your passion, connect with like-minded activists or professionals, or find a community where you excel as a global citizen.

Our work at MIUSA brings people together to activate ideas, plans of action, and partnerships that expand beyond the life-time of the program or project. There’s a global community collectively fighting against poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, violence, and unemployment. People connected with MIUSA are an important part of this community, and you never know where you’ll find us.

Recently, three people from the MIUSA family found each other as colleagues after being selected for the high-profile U.S. Department of State Empower exchange program, administered by Discovering Deaf Worlds. In November 2013, they traveled to Manila, Philippines to share their knowledge and experiences with members of the Deaf community.

Heather Harker, who is Deaf, first participated in a MIUSA exchange program when she traveled to Russia in 1991. Melanie DeLeon-Benham has been collaborating with MIUSA since 1998 as an American Sign Language interpreter, and Sarah Houge, who is also Deaf, traveled with MIUSA to Jordan in 2012 as a delegate on a professional women’s exchange. All three have one thing in common outside of MIUSA – they are effective activists for the rights of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Their passions led them to MIUSA and propelled them beyond. Through their new journey, they are engaging, problem solving, and exchanging views globally once again; they hope to collectively pave the way for more Filipinos rights to proudly use their native sign language and opportunities for education, careers, and health information.