• Feature
    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, at the Linstead ‘Business In Di Streets’ Economic Fair recently.
    Photo: Contributed

    Story Highlights

    • 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 Ltd.
    • Rehabilitation Officer with Community-Based Rehabilitation Jamaica (CBRJ) and Supervisor of the Linstead Area, Mary Cobourne, tells JIS News that persons with disabilities are excited.

    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 Ltd.

    Rehabilitation Officer with Community-Based Rehabilitation Jamaica (CBRJ) and Supervisor of the Linstead Area, Mary Cobourne, tells JIS News that persons with disabilities are 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 says.

    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 things we could do. Then they said, let us make some pillows… and we decided to do the pillows,” Ms. Cobourne adds.

    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,” says 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 says.

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

    “Being a part of the group over the years has been a wonderful thing. It is a dream that has come true for us, because we have waited so long, and now that it has come to fruition, I am really elated,” shares Clovis Reid, a PwD who makes and sells pillows and cushions with the group.

    Although the present focus is on pillows and cushions, there are discussions about expanding the product line to include pillow cases, cushion cases, sheets and pot holders.

    As it relates to the SDC’s involvement, which not only includes creating project proposals for funding but also facilitating capacity building, networking and direct support, Mr. Reid says “it is a good idea that they have come on board to help us”.

    “We appreciate it. They must continue to keep up the good work because they have been doing a lot for persons. They have been a tower of strength,” he tells JIS News.