Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. is a non-stock, non-profit organization that was founded in 1973 by a Belgian nun, Sr. Valeriana Baerts, ICM to provide programs and services to persons with disabilities (PWDs). All these are geared to uplift the lives of PWDs – by becoming self-sufficient and contributing members of the society. This was established with the help of the Belgian Government which shouldered 75% of the construction cost and by the Archdiocese of Manila for the acquisition of the lot that is leased for free.
The center, as its name suggest is devoid of stairways, which symbolizes difficulty or of total rejection of persons with disabilities. By the total elimination of the physical and other symbolic barriers such as psychological, emotional and sociological in nature which hinders the rehabilitation progress. TWHI hopes to achieve a gainful and productive life for persons with disabilities which will restore their personal sense of dignity and self-respect so that their God-given talents could bloom to their full potentials.
Sr. Ma. Paula Valeriana Baerts, ICM, a Belgian nun who belonged to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1965, she was sent in the Philippines and assigned in the Philippine Orthopedic Center. During her service in the hospital, she saw the miserable plight of persons with disability that brought about her eagerness to improve their lives. Later did she realize that it was her real mission in life.
Sr. Valeriana was touched by the pathetic lives of the severely disabled who are mostly abandoned by their kins in the National Orthopedic Hospital. With the help of the civic minded citizens, she started putting up sheltered workshops patterned after the Cheshire Homes of the United Kingdom. In a span of five years, ten half-way homes have been established; Sinagtala for Boys the first to be built in 1965 second was the Sinagtala for Girls and in 1968, the Bahay Kakayahan was built, later on many workshops were established by the organization.
In 1972, Sr. Valeriana attended the World Rehabilitation Congress in Sidney where she met Mr. Lionel Watts, the founder of the House with No Steps in Australia, which is a vocational training for persons with disability in Sidney, Australia. She encouraged Mr. Watts to visit the Philippines.
Project proposals were sent to different funding agencies and finally the Belgian Government heeded the call for the center. It funded 75% of the building construction. The archdiocese of Manila allowed the lease of 4.2 hectare lot in Cainta and in February 21, 1973. Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. was established. The architectural structure of the building was in consonance with the requirement of the Belgian government and the Filipino reality making it accessible, a model haven for wheelchair users.