Category Archives: Employment for Persons with Disabilities

LANKAN ISLE MAGAZINE GIVES PUBLICITY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Running a race like no other

National para athlete, Kumudu Priyanka believes that it is the sheer will power which wins the day more than the limbs…

By Randima Attygalle

An unusual metal object lying in Kumudu Priyanka’s home compound in Horabokka, Moneragala drew the attention of the young girl and her mother. Intrigued by it, the 16-year-old fiddled with the object knowing little that it was a hand grenade carelessly disposed in her garden by some unknown party. The hand grenade which blasted in her hands, robbed her of both her hands and vision in one eye. Her mother, R.M. Nandawathi too sustained severe injuries, though fate was more kind to her.

Once a ‘complete’ young girl with a knack for outdoor life in the prime of her youth, Kumudu was pulled into an abyss of darkness with no purpose in life any more on that fateful day on 25th May in 2005. Kumudu who was rushed to the Buttala Hospital by the villagers, was later transferred to the Badulla Hospital where she received treatment for nearly two months. “I thought my world had come to an end,” recollects Kumudu a star national-level athlete today. With a wealth of international exposure at para-athletic meets including Asian Games and Asia Pacific Games, Kumudu’s list of medals runs long. Making her employers at MAS Holdings and her country proud, Kumudu’s zest for life is astounding. “After my accident, I realized that what matters is not a person’s limbs but the mental courage to face life,” reflects Kumudu who navigates day-to-day chores with dexterity despite the loss of fingers. “What people like us need is not sympathy but empathy,” adds the sprint queen who applauds her organization and her mentors for being living embodiments of this.

Having lost her father at the age of three and the step- father later deserting her mother and her three siblings, Kumudu’s young life was full of trials and tribulations. The single parent her mother was, had to fend for her young family working on sugar cane plantations in the area. Today at 30, Kumudu is proud that she could finally look after her mother and her youngest sister, still schooling. “When I lost my hands, I was feeling guilty as a dependent. My mother’s life was already a hard one and I felt wretched to be an added burden.” Applauding her mother for being a ‘liberal woman’ in a social setting where children with disabilities are often hidden from the public eye, Kumudu credits her for opening up avenues for her to return to the mainstream. She is equally thankful to her fellow villagers and the Chief Prelate of her village temple who stood by her during her darkest hour.

Coming under the wings of the late Premadasa Dissanayake who steered Rehab Lanka was a turning point in Kumudu’s life. Having been introduced to the visionary leader, a wheel-chair user himself through the AG Office in Moneragala, Kumudu never looked back. “I’m what I am today because of the guidance I received from my mentor whose is no more,” says emotionally-charged Kumudu. The association with her peers at Rehab Lanka with diverse disabilities empowered Kumudu to ‘find herself’ once more and become independent. Today she handles her phone, cutlery and the computer like any other counterpart with no disability. She catches a bus home to Moneragala once a month. The perceptions of society towards people with disabilities have largely progressed here at home, says Kumudu, adding that still there is so much space to improve. She is quick to add with a smile, “although there are still those who keep on staring at me in disbelief at public places, on the bus etc, more people have been kind to me and supportive.”

The athlete in Kumudu lying dormant all these years was ignited when she participated in Para National Athletic Meet in 2006. Clinching gold medals in 100m and 200m running and long jump, Kumudu went on to hone her faculties under several inspiring coaches. Today she aspires to represent the country once again at 2020 Para Olympics. Having acquired computer skills a few years after her accident, Kumudu is productively employed at MAS Intimates Unichela Panadura today as a data entry operator. Shakthi Ranatunga, Group Director Human Resource at MAS states, “sport is a creator of opportunities for talented associates at MAS. It also opens up mediums of excellence for our 400 colleagues with disabilities. We strive to create a workplace where they are recognized for their abilities and not disabilities. It is not only about offering a job, but creating the right conditions – internal and external built environment, physical and emotional support mechanism, where dignity is paramount and they get the opportunities to pursue their lives’ passion. In our organisation, everyone gets an opportunity to become a hero.”

Grateful to all the support she receives from her organization, Kumudu urges more corporates to take a cue from it. “I have never been discriminated in my working environment. On the contrary, I receive the fullest support not only in my work but also in my athletic pursuits,” says Kumudu who represents the MAS athletic team as well.

With her cheerful countenance, Kumudu surmises: “I was born a complete human being and I never thought I’d lose a part of me. Life is unpredictable but whatever befalls, we need to brave it just as I have.”

Source: Lankan Isle (Jan-March, 2019 edition)

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Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Kumudu in action

Manique Gunaratne

Skype – manique.g

JOB INTERVIEWS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon conducted job interviews in February 2019 for persons with disabilities to provide employment opportunities in private sector companies.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Persons with disabilities ready for interviews.

2 Group of persons with disabilities.

3 Participants preparing for interviews.

Manique Gunaratne

Member – Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter

“WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES AND ACCESS TO ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES: THROUGH THE LENS OF GENDER BUDGETS”,

UN Women invited Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Ms. Ayasana Gunasekera of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon to the launch of the research report on “Women with Disabilities and Access to Economic Opportunities: Through the Lens of Gender Budgets”, together with  the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Sri Lanka.

The report launch was held at Hotel Taj Samudra in February 2019. The study is the first of its kind which examines public policies and budgetary gaps from a gender and disability perspective in relation to employment and economic opportunities.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique and Ayasana.

2 Banner.

Manique Gunaratne

Manager – Specialise Training and Disability Resource Centre of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon

QUALITY OF LIFE AND EMPLOYABILITY POTENTIAL OF VISUALLY IMPAIRED PERSONS

A research team from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) planned to conduct a comprehensive research project aimed at investigating quality of life and employability potential of visually impaired persons in Sri Lanka.

Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Ms. Ayasana Gunasekera from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon participated at this information sharing session.

This research aims to address three knowledge areas with respect to managerial and socio-economic implications of Visually Impaired Persons in Sri Lanka. The broad objectives are:

To determine the current status of prevalence of Visually Impaired Persons and the scope of the service provision toward empowering them and support their social inclusion in Sri Lanka. This attempt is aimed at exploring the extent of service gaps and their unmet need.

To develop and validate a comprehensive instrument for determining their quality of life as applicable to socio-economic standards and cultural dimensions prevailing in Sri Lanka. This could lead to examine how far securing employment would result in enhancing their quality of life.

To develop a mapping model of their employability potential and the job market opportunities. This exercise is attempted taking into account the possessed and impartible skills of Visually Impaired Persons in Sri Lanka and the potential job roles apposite to them.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique and Ayasana.

2 Participants at the meeting.

Manique Gunaratne

Executive Committee Member – Disability Organisations’ Joint Front

 

 

SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability took another initiative in the disability field. EFC is planning to support persons with disabilities to expand their businesses. The common trend in the society is to grant self-employment aid which has a charity based approach. When self-employment aid is granted there is no proper mechanism to monitor the growth of the business. Also persons with disabilities have a mindset of a charity approach. But it is very important to have a right based approach.  The EFC started a course of study in Small Business Development for 15 persons with diverse disabilities (vision impaired, partially sighted, hearing impaired, speech difficulty, physical disabilities and multiple disabilities) in December 2018. The trainees will be trained on how to prepare a proper business plan and there after they will be granted low interest loans to expand their businesses. It is very important to have entrepreneurs with disabilities. In 2015 under the ILO (International Labour Organisation) LEED (Local Empowerment through Economic Development) project EFC granted interest free loans for 30 persons with diverse disabilities from the North of Sri Lanka. Small Business Development trainings will be conducted by Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Ms. Ayasana Gunasekera.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Dinithi attending training.

2 Group photograph standing.

3 Group photograph seated.

4 Trainee attending online.

5 Trainee attending online.

6 Trainee attending online.

(Honoured, Deshabandu) Ms. H.K. Manique Gunaratne