Lot of hard work, preparations, team work and long journey turned into laughter and smiles of everyone after we concluded the workshops for persons with disabilities, their families and the community in Mulativu and Kilinochchi districts.
The journey began on 17th January to Kilinochchi with the I.L.O. LEED project team members. Though it was a long journey we did not feel the time because all of us were coming up with jokes, funny things in life and own life experiences of Tanya, Manique, Vasana and Beulah. Happy bunch of ladies reached Kilinochchi in the evening. Late evening was exciting too. Ladies got together in one room and prepared the training materials in an enjoyable way. The secret of the success of the workshop was the team work with the maximum enthusiasm.
All four workshops were with a lot of experiences. Workshops were conducted with Tamil translations. There were PowerPoint presentations, activities and role plays by the resource persons. Persons with disabilities shared their experiences as well as their families and the community working with them. Employers too shared their experiences in employing persons with disabilities. E.F.C. Network on Disability, Importance of doing a job, Interview skills, writing CV’s, work environment, experience of parents of disabled employee about the impact of having their child earning, supporting the family and being a successful citizen in society, Disability Barriers showing how families can be a barrier to persons with disabilities even though they have good intentions at heart and changing mind set are the key areas covered in the workshops for persons with disabilities and their families which had a very good impact on promoting employment with dignity.
Disability etiquettes, Barriers persons with disabilities face in the society, Expectations of a person with a disability of what they expect from the society and role plays on changing mind set in the programmes for the community touched the hearts of the participants. “Nothing about us without us” and inclusion were the most powerful thoughts when doing a workshop relating to disabilities. The emotions, the way persons with disabilities shared their experiences were very effective to send the message across to everyone.
The participants got the opportunity of a new experience by committing themselves to few key areas on disability by signing the pledge. All participants with smiling faces holding the pledge stood together and showed their commitment.
The LEED team did a field visit to MAS Factory in Kilinochchi to identify areas where persons with disabilities can be included in their work force. It was a really good experience for me.
The team returned to Colombo on 22 January with new ideas on how to improve the quality of the workshops to do them in other districts in the future.