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SDC helping to change the lives of disabled persons

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Member of the Linstead Disabled Group Ltd., Efredo Sinclair (right), displays the Group’s pillows and cushions to customers from the St. Catherine business community, during Linstead's recent ‘Business In Di Streets’ Economic Fair.
Pillows and cushions made by persons with disabilities from the Linstead Disabled Group Ltd.

Persons with disabilities (PwDs) often have difficulty integrating into society to contribute to the economy, while providing for themselves.

The Social Development Commission (SDC), through its Local Economic Development Support Programme, is helping to change that reality for PwDs in Linstead and surrounding communities in St Catherine, through the Linstead Disabled Group Limited.

Rehabilitation Officer with Community-Based Rehabilitation Jamaica (CBRJ) and Supervisor of the Linstead Area, Mary Cobourne, said that persons with disabilities were excited.

"They just want to come out, and they are going around and telling persons about what they do and they are bringing in orders. They have something to do and they feel like [they have] a purpose," she said..

Ms Cobourne, who is the parent of a PwD, is also Treasurer of the Linstead Disabled Group Ltd, which makes pillows.

The Linstead Disabled Group Ltd is a branch of the CBRJ and was formed in 2014 out of the Enos Barrett Disabled Group Centre. The group was created for adults and adolescents with a range of disabilities to socialise outside of their homes, while being productive, motivated and reassured.

"We thought one day, instead of us coming and just talking, we could do something, and we named a couple of things we could do. Then they said, let us make some pillows ... and we decided to do the pillows," Ms Cobourne explained.

The group needed assistance to get the initiative off the ground and reached out to the SDC through their local community development officer.

"I contacted Food For the Poor and got a sewing machine, and then we asked for assistance from different persons and churches to teach them (PwDs) how to do the soft furnishings and to do the pillows," said Community Development Officer with the SDC, Minnett Anderson-Myers.

Through the SDC's Local Economic Development Support Programme, Mrs Anderson-Myers was able to secure funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the group to further their economic initiative.

"We got funding of over $1 million, and we stocked up on materials and sponge, and we got new equipment - an industrial machine and a new serger.

"We are refurbishing a space now to operate from. Now that we have expanded the business, they started to get an income in December 2018," Mrs Anderson-Myers said.

The Linstead Disabled Group Ltd creates and sells pillows and cushions, ranging in price from $600 to $1,500, to customers who come from communities, churches, and nursing homes in and around Linstead.