ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Kandy Times

New lease of life for productive but neglected segment

By Dhananjani Silva

Shantha K Ariyasinghe’s dreams were shattered when he met with a motorbike accident in 1993. Due to his disability, he eventually had to resign from his job at Union Assurance where he was employed as a clerk. Hailing from Matale, this 40- year-old is from a five member family of three sisters and a brother. Having had to take care of his aged mother and to support his family of five members, the youngest brother being deaf and dumb too, Shantha who was made to face a huge set back in life has reasons to smile today.

Picture shows a job seeker having a cup of tea and awaiting his turn. Pix by L.B. Senaratne

“Thanks, to this job fair project, I have the courage to pick up the pieces in life and move forward,” says Shantha who was participating at the Job Fair in Kandy.

“Being employed once again would give me a new lease of life. Though disabled, we too like to be of use to society, to be of use to our families rather than being a burden on them. At the interview, they were asking me if I could do graphic designing and so on, if they teach me further. I am quite confident that I can manage doing it,” said Shantha.

Country Director of Motivation Sharmini Constantinescu explaining the employment placement programe said that all participants of this programme go through preliminary training in Job Seeking and Keeping skills conducted by Motivation under their Employment Placement Programme (EPP) where the potential employees were trained to face the challenges of employment.

The applicants are trained in job seeking and keeping skills under the curriculum provided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) after which they are registered in a central database. It is through this skills matching database that Motivation links these people with disabilities with the employers.

This project is also supported by leading organizations such as John Keels and ID Lanka who provide the job seekers with skills development in Information Technology and English Language Training which are vital components in finding employment.

“Some of the employers actually didn’t know that people with disabilities have so much to offer. So it was a win-win situation for employer and employee,” the Motivation country director said.

Like Shantha, Rohini Gunawardene, (35), an only daughter of a family from Pilimathalawa was another beneficiary of the Job Fair programme who has participated in this ever memorable event for the first time in her life.

“From preparing the CVs, to the dress codes and the manner of talking and facing an interview was taught to us at these workshops,” she says. Rohini who has applied for a post of an office assistant and says that her disability has never been a hindrance to carry on with her life as she engages in a lot of voluntary activities for the disabled.

Twenty six year old Sanath Wickremasuriya who was hitherto engaged in cultivating vegetables in his home garden believes that with the assistance of the private sector or the government they too can go a long way in life, despite their conditions. “We are condemned and cornered by society, but we too want to show that we are able to do something and should be considered equally,” he said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.