There is an increasing number of organisations rising to the challenge of providing employment for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) in the Klang Valley area such as Autism Cafe Project, Bake with Dignity.
Their battle to sustain a livelihood has been a long journey riddled with infrastructure that does not accommodate them and a lack of awareness on how jobs could better cater for the community.
PwDs are multifaceted and consist of different disabilities, hearing or visual impairments, or physical or intellectual disability that requires specific needs. There are individualised needs that each PwD community requires, and the same goes to when training and putting them to work.
We shift our focus to the north of Malaysia, to highlight the tremendous work Persatuan Daybreak (Disabled Adults And Youths Being Rewarded, Encouraged and Accepted in Kinta) have done to equip the community for alternative work placements.
Putting PwD Community To Work
Since its establishment in 1992, Persatuan Daybreak has provided vocational skills training for 1,315 Persons With Disabilities between the age of 16 and 40. The organisation aims to equip their trainees with substantial skills that would allow them to land a job placement outside of Persatuan Daybreak.
However, before placing individuals under vocational training, they will be assessed by an occupational therapist to ensure that the programme will cater to the needs of the PwD trainees.
With only a handful of organisations around Ipoh, Mr Au Hah Chye, the General Manager at Daybreak is hoping to see more organisations that provide training programmes to PwD specifically oriented towards local job opportunities in Ipoh. The organisation also works in tandem with centres around Ipoh with a similar aim, to ensure that the PwD community in Ipoh are well-provided.
It will be beneficial for more organisations to provide Persons With Disabilities with training programmes oriented towards specific local job opportunities, e.g. back area support jobs in retail outlets or frontline jobs, e.g. in bakeries and kopitiam. – Mr Au Hah Chye, General Manager at Persatuan Daybreak
Daybreak also provides the trainees with other sets of skills in addition to work-related training. It has two plant nurseries, one for growing indoor plants, the other for cultivating chillies. Trainees have the opportunity to learn basic gardening skills that allow them to relax and deal with stress better.
Activities such as this allow the trainees to saddle responsibilities, and when given the opportunity, the community would do it to the best of their ability.
Shortcomings And Silver Lining
The mechanism of Persatuan Daybreak as described by Puan Sri Sandra Lee, the executive director of the organisation is to teach disabled individuals fishing instead of simply handing them a fish.
Daybreak currently runs five different social enterprises including handicraft, nursery, socks manufacturing, assembly and packaging and general cleaning. With tackling various arms of social enterprises, there have been struggles over the years to finance their training programmes, especially in the light of the pandemic.
The recurrent challenge we faced over the years is funding. We do not charge for our training programmes and are dependent on donations from individuals and corporations, and occasional grants for our operating expenses. – Mr Au Hah Chye, General Manager at Persatuan Daybreak
Even so, the success stories of Daybreak trainees hired by their business partners became a strength and a continuous push for the organisation to persevere.
In 2021, Daybreak placed 14 of our trainees with business partners in the Kinta area, working as production operators, retail assistants and as sewing operators. – Mr Au Hah Chye, General Manager at Persatuan Daybreak
Daybreak’s previous trainees who have found employment are achieving greater heights under their new placement. They are earning better pay and are praised for their work, Mr Au is pleased with the trainees’ continuous improvement as it shows that their hard work in training PwD individuals has been fruitful.
It is this confidence of employers in the quality of the training we provide and the ability of our trainees that motivates us in our mission. – Mr Au Hah Chye, General Manager at Persatuan Daybreak
Have Faith In The PwD Community
The PwD community has a similar aim to many of us, that is to earn our keep and be accepted members of society.
Previous research conducted by University Utara Malaysia found that employers were driven by unnecessary fears when it comes to hiring disabled peers due to the current policies . At the same time, there is a damaging perception when it comes to the fact that PwD workers are less capable compared to able-bodied workers.
Time and time again, as shown by the efforts of different organisations working with the community.
They are able workers if given the necessary help but with a required extra dose of patience when training them.
Persons With Disabilities want to be self-reliant, independent and integrated members of society. Help them with kindness and patience.– Mr Au Hah Chye, General Manager at Persatuan Daybreak
How can we help them to have the future that they deserve?
Consider purchasing their beautiful handicraft currently sold at Shopee, or if you have extra money to spare, become a sponsor to the youth at Persatuan Daybreak.
In addition to extending our helping hand, the simplest and most powerful thing we could do is treat the PwD community with compassion. Take the time to learn about their struggles and be grateful for the privileges we have taken for granted. If you’re an employer, give them a chance, everyone deserves it.
Special thanks: All photos published in this article are from Persatuan DAYBREAK’s Facebook page.