Career expo held for persons with disabilities
By Sharmina Manandhar
Kathmandu, Nepal, 13 December 2013 – Amrita Gyawali is full of energy and positive attitude.
Despite being a wheelchair user because of a spinal injury cord resulting from a bus accident at age 3, she is determined to raise awareness about the various issues concerning people with disability.
“We need to be thinking about making our public places as disable friendly as possible,” she said demonstrating a model of disable friendly restroom at a recent career expo for people with disability.
The UNICEF-supported event was held in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 13 in participation with Nepal Government’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, national organizations for people with disability and various national and international non-profit organizations.
Organized for the second year in a row, the event marked the 22nd International Day of the Persons with Disabilities and was a venue for job seekers with disability and organizations to come together to discuss aspects of employment process such as preparing a resume, interview techniques, making workplace disable-friendly, etc.
Amrita, with her new job as the equity and inclusion consultant at Water Aid Nepal, was the perfect role model for the job seekers at the expo.
“When employers hire people with disability, they don’t hire them because of their disability,” she said. “They hire them because of their qualification and experience.”
Hence, they need to be willing to work hard to obtain those qualification and experience, she added. She further encouraged people with disability to “speak up and fight for your right.”
Amrita herself is no stranger to hard work. She completed her bachelor in psychology and sociology through self-study when her disability prevented her from attending disable unfriendly schools, which included classrooms in first and second floors, traditional Nepali-style restrooms which needed squatting, etc.
It is these experiences that have inspired her to work towards raising awareness about the importance of disable friendly infrastructure.
“It is very difficult for people with disability to gain and retain employment until the workplace and transportation to and from workplace is disable friendly,” she said.
She also highlighted the importance of education in the development of people with disability.
Her sentiment was reiterated by the event’s chief guest Honorable Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, Chairman of Council of Ministers.
“In order for the empowerment of people with disability and to create a favourable environment for their social participation, it is important to provide them with equal access to education and health care as well as opportunities for professional skills development,” he said. “The Government is committed to working with all related stakeholders to develop employment opportunities for people with disability.”
He also said that programs like these are effective towards developing confidence and entrepreneurship among people with disability.
In addition to employment related presentations and workshops from various organizations, including the UN, the expo also included stalls displaying and selling items created by people with disability.
The expo also allowed job seekers with disability to register for free with merojob.com, an employment website, which will post the job seekers’ profiles online bringing them one step closer to employment. Last year, 28 job seekers found employment following the career expo.
Waiting to get his profile created at the merojob.com stall was Nawraj Jaigadi.
The 30-year-old, who lost sight about seven years ago, is seeking employment and training opportunities that might help him support his family financially.
“I hope this will lead to something,” he said.
Similarly hopeful was Nirmaya Magrati.
But for the 21-year-old who has been using crutches since she was seven years old, employment meant self-dependence.
About 15 per cent of people with disability in Nepal are reliant on their families and relatives while only 5 per cent of them are involved in some economic activities, according to national statistics.
“I want to stop relying on other people and be able to stand on my own feet,” she said.