John Paul Maunes

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2014
Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, Inc.(GVSP Philippines)


This profile was prepared when John Paul Maunes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
John Paul Maunes, called “JP”, is building a Deaf-inclusive society. By addressing the rampant yet ignored problem of sexual abuse among Deaf children and women, JP has chosen to work with the most vulnerable of the Deaf community and use this work as a mobilizing force in engaging lawyers, police officers, and other volunteers, as well as in raising broader public awareness about the multiple barriers facing the Deaf. By training and engaging Deaf and hearing volunteers through Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme (GVSP) Philippines, JP is providing multiple platforms where the Deaf and the hearing interact with one another - interactions that JP believes are key for the hearing community to see Deaf community members as valued members of society.

JP’s Break the Silence Project (BTS) launched in 2011 is GVSP’s flagship initiative to uncover and expose the widely ignored tragedy of sexual abuse against Deaf children and women in the Philippines, which, according to the Deaf Resource Center affects approximately 70% of that group. In partnership with other nonprofit organizations, government agencies, private groups, and other relevant institutions, GVSP is educating the hearing and Deaf community about the issue not only to detect and help prevent further cases but to develop a system to address the abuse. JP’s approach uses animated films adapted from a leading children’s organization with inset Filipino Sign Language (FSL) for Deaf children, trained Deaf counselors, and a 24/7 hotline to detect and channel more advanced psychological support to sexually abused Deaf individuals. He then establishes paralegal and court interpreting services to help cases be brought to light and justice, as well as workshops and trainings for government agencies that serve the Deaf. In doing so, GVSP is not only addressing the issue of sexual abuse among the Deaf but inserting the needs of the Deaf community into the law enforcement, justice and social welfare systems.

The BTS Project has expanded to become BTS Networks across the Philippines. BTS networks are comprised of Deaf and hearing professionals: lawyers, police officers, paralegals, interpreters, and other Deaf and hearing volunteers, who are committed to helping the Deaf community have fair access to justice. GVSP’s work for the BTS Project has given the issues faced by the Deaf community proper attention and urgency while building momentum around broader questions of inclusion. JP is using this greater interest and understanding to also achieve policy changes related to the official recognition of Filipino Sign Language(FSL) and nationwide interpreting services on televised news as a pathway for mainstream inclusion of the Deaf community.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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