Differently-abled persons urged to set up their own businesses


Differently-abled persons are being urged to pursue business ventures to “become economically independent.”

The call was made by Minister of Public Affairs Dawn Hastings-Williams when she addressed a graduation ceremony for 108 special needs students at the David Rose Special Needs School on Wednesday.

They were trained skills in cosmetology, sewing, wood-working, leather craft, mat making, computer skills training and JAWS- a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired users to read.

The programmes were taught under the Board of Industrial Training at different special needs institutions across the country.

The Minister pointed out that differently-abled persons are seldom employed in the public or even private sector.

“The Government at the present time cannot find work in offices for everyone…even those without disabilities, it is not that possible to find jobs for everyone,” she said.

As such, the Minister noted that the current administration encourages young people to find something which they enjoy doing and build a career.

“Persons with disabilities or what we may call the differently-abled are capable to develop any array of skills, abilities and competencies in order to become economically independent,” she told those gathered.

It was noted that the government’s small business grants are also available for those with special needs.

Ganesh Singh, Programme Coordinator of the Guyana Council of Organisation for Persons with Disabilities, pointed out that persons with disabilities need to also play a part. Singh, who is visually impaired, urged those gathered to work to change the perception of persons with disabilities.

Ganesh Singh, Programme Coordinator of the Guyana Council of Organisation for Persons with Disabilities

“We need to be an example so that persons will start using us as yardsticks to measure persons with disabilities; so no longer will they look at someone at the stop light begging as a yardstick to measure us,” he said.

He added: “We have this culture that exists within the private and public sector where persons with disabilities are not seen as  being able to be employed and to be productive but we want to change that.”

To change that, he urged the graduates to utilize their skills to improve their circumstances.

Of those who graduated was Hazel Morris, a 53-year-old woman who became visually impaired 35 years ago when she was pregnant with her second child. Morris, a mother of two learnt how to make floor mats and caning of antique chairs –skills which she hopes to use to gain income.

Hazel MorrisAnother graduate, 15-year-old Rafael Ramotar, who did woodworking said though he has an issue with reading, being able to learn a skill will still help him to assist his family and also seek employment around his community.

Clinton Williams who is the Chairman of the Board of Industrial Training, said by the end of 2019, the programme which was designed to help vulnerable groups would help 25,000 persons in total to become employable.

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