“Now I work at the deli in Eurostar, stocking all the shelves”
My name is Aoife Cully and I live in the village of Clonbollogue in County Offaly with my mum and dad. I am 23 years old. Three years ago I worked out my personal plan with Jo, my keyworker, and I told everybody that I wanted to get a job. I never had a job before and I was very unsure about what I wanted to do.
My mum had heard about Project SEARCH at Naas General Hospital and she thought I might get experience there of what it is like to work. I had to learn to get the bus to Naas to go the hospital. I had never used the bus before, and mum and I were nervous about that, but I got very good at it and now I can use the bus by myself.
The hospital was massive and it took me a while to learn how to get around. Wendy and Trish, who volunteer with Project SEARCH, helped me settle in, and I worked in three different departments: in the wards, in the gift shop and the public coffee shop, and in the catering department. During this time I composed my CV and I also did some practice interviews. I told Wendy and Trish that I really wanted to work in a supermarket, and together with my Dad they helped me get a job in Eurospar in Portarlington. I work in the deli department, and I also work with the girls stocking all the shelves. I love my job as I get to meet new people and I can buy new things from the money I earn.
“Now we are students at the Ijevan branch of Yerevan State University”
We are 22-year-old Ruzanna and Syuzanna, twin sisters, born in the village Koghb in Tavush Marz, Armenia. Unfortunately, our past 22 years have not always been easy, as we have functional limitations of movement – best known as cerebral palsy. Since childhood we have undergone endless treatments and rehabilitation exercises.
Nonetheless, with our parents’ dedication we managed to overcome physical and psychological barriers, and in 2000 we started to attend school. Today, we are fourth-year students at the Ijevan branch of Yerevan State University, in the faculty of pedagogy and psychology. At the same time, we are working at the non-profit organization Bridge of Hope as project assistants.
Through the “The Right to Earn a Living” project we have become members of a youth advocacy group to protect the rights and interests of people with disabilities, where we have improved our knowledge and skills in advocacy, leadership, communications, etc. The project’s debates, roundtable discussions, advocacy campaigns, walkathons, and TV programmes have given us the chance to express our views and opinions. As a result, we have become more self-confident and are now better able to find solutions to the problems that we and other disabled persons must address.
“I am far away from my family, but I am now able to help them.”
Being the eldest daughter in my family, it made me frustrated that I could not help my family members when they faced problems. At first they did not support me moving to Dhaka, but I went there anyway because I knew I had to do something. Ever since I was a child people always tried to avoid me, and my relatives always treated me differently than others, and so I always felt like a burden.
I was looking for job opportunities for three months in Dhaka, but was unable to find anything and so, with my savings spent, I headed back to Khulna. Shortly after returning, I received a call back from the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed and I was straight back on a bus to Savar to enrol in a sewing machine operator’s course for underprivileged women and persons with disabilities.
I have finished my apprenticeship and I am now a skilled worker with nationally-recognised qualifications. I am also a mentor to other young apprentices as they finish the same course that I graduated from. It is mainly thanks to the Bangladesh-ILO’s (International Labour Organization) technical and vocational education and training reform that I was trained and could secure employment.
Now my father visits me monthly, and he can see first-hand that even with my disability I am doing work and earning money. And despite the fact that I am far away from my family, I am now able to help them. For instance, my younger sister is in class eight and I have told her already that I am going to bear her education costs. Families are not conscious about what they should do for their children if they have a disability; they underestimate their potential and they try to hide them from the rest of society. I have proved them wrong.
“Today, I earn enough to support my family of eight people.”
Abdul Bashir, who has a physical disability, is a beneficiary of the micro finance programme sponsored by the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Programme (AREDP). A native of the Big Mohammad Khail village in in Afghanistan’s Parwan province, he is the breadwinner of a family of eight.
At the outset, Bashir had a difficult time finding a job where he could train and could earn an income, but that changed when he was selected by AREDP to be a member of a “saving group” in his village. AREDP also provided Bashir with training and business skills, and helped him to establish his own grocery shop.
“Before joining the AREDP saving group, I was jobless and had serious economic problems. AREDP helped me establish a grocery shop in my village, and today I earn enough to support my family,” reports Bashir with obvious satisfaction.
“Most importantly, I learned how to create my own appropriate workplace personality”
Vander is a young man with cerebral palsy who has achieved remarkable things despite formidable obstacles. At the age of nine he was put into foster care and separated from his mother and four brothers. Moreover, Vander was somehow allowed to fall through the cracks and didn’t attend school until he was 10 years old. An important milestone for Vander was when his occupational therapist (a school employee who provided related services specified in his individualized education programme) encouraged him to fill out the application for a Project SEARCH programme at a U.S. Government agency near his Washington, DC, home. Happily, Vander was accepted to the programme. As he recalled, “We learned how to escort guests, how to express ourselves in an appropriate way for the workplace, how to answer the telephone in the proper manner, and most importantly I learned how to create my own appropriate workplace personality.”
I am Eduardo. I’m 22 years old and I have Marfan syndrome, which is a sort of hyperelasticity. I live in Magdalena del Mar with my parents and my sister, and I want my family to be happy. I am a bit shy. In secondary school I studied English and IT. Now I wake up at 6:15 each day and go to work.
When I started my training, my father used to accompany me and wait until the end. After a few days, however, I was able to travel by myself. I never missed a class – not even when someone robbed me of my wallet and cell phone. The biggest problem for persons with disabilities is that they don’t have the opportunity to show what they are capable of. Employers tend to reject you as soon as they see you.
This is my first job. I like when clients say “thank you” and the fact that I can help them with their problems. For me, to have a stable job is a big opportunity. It changed my life, as I can now also help out financially at home. Thanks to the skills training that I received, I have become a better person. Going forward, I will be able to pay my studies to become a computer engineer.
Learn more about how Peru’s I’m Capable Model is improving access to vocational training and employment for persons with disabilities.
Nusrat Parvin, a woman in her early twenties, was considered a total burden on her family. A woman who is neither good looking nor has a sound mind is rejected not only by the society but also by each of her family members. Under such conditions, Nusrat never realized that she, too, had potential.
During a health fair at Rupnarayanpur, Nusrat approached a stall that was staffed by Jhankar, an NGO that sells jewellery and other crafts designed and produced by people with intellectual disabilities. Thereafter, every day Nusrat would walk 30 minutes and then ride a bus for another 20 minutes to experience an encouraging environment in which she picked up the craft of jewellery making, embroidery, and other skills.
“My father burst into tears when I handed him my first earnings,” Nusrat recalled. “He embraced me and called all the other family members to announce that he was proud of me. That was the best moment of my life. I transformed into a contributing member of my family. I am not an outcast any more. Now I also have the right to take part in family decisions, and now I am able to challenge my mental illness and live my life with dignity.”
“I would like to have my own food business one day”
I am a 31-year-old man with a visual disability. Some while ago I participated in the pre-work training course offered by the Secretaria Nacional por los Derechos Humanos de las Personas con Discapacidad, which was taught by Foundation Saraki trainers, and thanks to this course I was able to learn various tools that helped me to perform better in job interviews and to overcome my shyness.
I didn’t have a job before, but I dared to take the course, which benefitted me greatly as only by making an effort can one reach their dreams. Now I am working at La Agencia Na- cional de Evaluación y Acreditación de la Educación Superior as an administrative assistant, where I staff the phone and computer, deliver documents to various offices, as well as perform other tasks. My relationship with my co-workers is really good. They always help me out and accompany me so I can do my best. I feel very comfortable with them.
When I am not at work I like fixing things at home, and I love cooking! I am also thinking about enrolling in the university, and am currently considering three majors – sport sciences, gastronomy, and criminology – but I think I like gastronomy most. I’d like to one day have my own food business.
Maria was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of two. For three years Maria studied at the Bala Vidyalaya School for Deaf Children, in Chennai, where she learned to speak and hear with the help of lip reading and hearing aids. Subsequently, she studied in mainstream schools. After completing her B.A. and LL.B. (with honours) from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2011, she joined the litigation and compliance team at Wipro Ltd., and currently, at just 29, is an Associate Corporate Counsel.
Maria works primarily in areas of immigration, data protection, and information technology. This involves advising various internal business teams and support functions on compliance with applicable laws and obligations thereunder, as well as engaging in corporate advocacy. Further, in September 2015 she represented Wipro at an international law conference at Oxford, England, hosted by DLA Piper – one of the top law firms in the world.
“I have always found the people at Wipro to be incredibly supportive and well-informed about the needs of differently abled persons. It is due to this inclusivity and promotion on merit that I was awarded the Best Lawyer Award (in the under five years’ experience category) at the Annual Legal Meet in 2013. The incredible opportunities given to me by Wipro testify to the e cacy of its efforts at promoting career growth and all round development for differently abled people.”
My name is Carlyle Gabbidon. I am 28 and the head barista at Deaf Can! Coffee. For the last year and a half, I’ve been responsible for managing the coffee shop at the School for the Deaf, where we started roasting coffee and brewing drinks. Now I am training the students in making food and baking, too.
I’ve always wanted to work and use my talents, but before Deaf Can! Coffee started, I would do a side job for someone, such as fix a laptop or a phone, and they would expect it for free. I’d say it costs 2,000 Jamaican dollars, but a lot of people think that because I’m deaf I can be taken advantage of, and they wouldn’t pay me for my work. When I was younger I went to a bakery because I wanted to learn how to make bread at a factory, but the boss said, “You’re deaf, you can’t, you’re too slow.” I said, “No, I can do this!” I felt like it wasn’t fair and I was discouraged.
Now we’re opening up a public coffee shop in partnership with another café where Fabian – my assistant manager – and I work alongside hearing people. We’re proving that deaf can do anything!