Disabled people seek jobs to improve themselves and be productive in communities

Several people with Down syndrome are struggling with mundane daily lives after having to leave Fujairah Rehabilitation Centre. They now want to find jobs that will immerse them in society and bring fulfilment.

Ismail and Khadieah Al Kindi enjoyed learning skills at the Fujairah Rehabilitation Centre. Now they want jobs. Reem Mohammed / The National
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FUJAIRAH // Ismail Al Kindi used to enjoy planting and tending to cucumbers, tomatoes and onions each day at the Fujairah Rehabilitation Centre.

But that was three years ago and Ismail, 31, has been unable to find work since the centre lowered the age limit to 18.

The Emirati would love to have a job and do something productive in his community, but he has been unable to find work, largely because he has Down syndrome.

His sister Khadieah, 40, has the same condition, and also used to work at the centre.

They need jobs in a safe environment that help them to develop but nothing is available.

“They need to be placed in a job that helps them improve and progress, around people who have the knowledge of how to deal with them,” said Amna Al Kindi, another sister.

“They used to be calm and happy, now they fight a lot and are always complaining. Their current situation has affected their abilities and skills that they have developed at the centre.”

Families caring for disabled people in Fujairah and the centre are calling for the Government to build a chocolate factory and a plant nursery where disabled people could work under the centre’s supervision.

“I wish that the Government would launch an initiative to establish a business project that would be under the supervision of the rehabilitation centre, and offer a suitable environment and jobs to people with a disability,” said Ayesha Khamis, whose daughter Shayma Al Naqbi has Down syndrome and left the centre in 2014.

“Shayma left the centre and was offered work in a cosmetics store but I didn’t approve it,” said Ms Khamis. “I didn’t feel that she would be safe as she would work with a number of people that might mistreat her.”

Amna said: “After they left the rehabilitation centre Ismail had a job opportunity at the municipality, but after a couple of months my father broke his leg and couldn’t drive him to work.

“So they terminated his contract and since that day he has stayed home.”

The centre held a chocolate-making class that was a hit with many of its visitors, including Khadieah.

“Mixing cocoa to create chocolate and put it on top of the biscuits,” Khadieah said with a sparkle in her eyes.

Ms Al Kindi said her siblings really miss the activities at the centre and the family is keen to find a place where their safety is assured and they can be productive and happy again.

That is why the centre is hoping to gain the approvals needed to begin at least one of the projects, to remove people with a disability from isolation, build up their personalities and get them learning skills while contributing to their community.

“Having a place where they can earn money and contribute to society is like a dream comes true – girls can work in a chocolate factory and they are good at it, while boys can plant vegetables and fruits in a farm or a plant nursery,” said the centre’s social worker, Jamila Al Mula.

She said 14 out of 34 physically or mentally challenged people had been recruited by government entities in the past four years, in roles involving data entry or as clerks.

“The numbers of those who were rejected are low and a lot of them stay at home. Some of the parents are afraid to let their son or daughter work in a place where they might not be treated right,” said Ms Al Mula.