02/08/2021: Seven students of the SENESE Inclusive Education Secondary Program working at Samoa Waste Management and Recycling Association (SWMRA) have been hailed as exemplary workers by the organisation’s President who says there is potential in their industry to offer more work opportunities for people with disabilities.
The workers are current and former students of the SENESE Secondary School Programme who have varying levels of hearing impairments and have found employment through SWMRA’s Plastic Bottle Recycling and Glass Project.
According to SWRA’s President, Marina Keil, they have been able to hire three full time male workers for a year while four young women working at the plastic bottle recycling receive paid work experience for 6 weeks although that has been extended to 10 weeks.
“We’ve been trying to keep the girls with us beyond the 6 week work experience because they have achieved an amazing goal of processing over 120,000 bottles in 6 weeks which is a major contribution to our goal to export 1 million plastic bottles. It’s been hard trying to acquire more funding to keep them on but we believe we can do it and hopefully be able to include them in the glass project because now we realise we need more help in label removal.”
Despite some communication barriers at the beginning of their work experience, Ms Keil says the workers’ ability to learn fast, their great work ethic and unique skill set has been key to their success so far within the organisation.
“When they started off in SWRMA, the communication barrier was a problem but along the way we have seen that our employees from SENESE are hardworking and punctual,” she said.
“They are very fast learners and are committed to the work given to them. They easily read lips and facial expressions to understand us more. They are very respectful and helpful too, one of the boys has been able to handle and operate the heavy machinery without any problems, it’s been great working with them.”
SENESE’s Secondary Coordinator, Sagato Vaoliko commends the Recycling and Waste Management NGO for their initiative to empower people with disabilities with employment opportunities and hopes that more organisations may consider following in their footsteps.
“SENESE is grateful to SRWMA for providing this wonderful opportunity for our current and ex-students as well as taking the initiative in empowering people with disabilities through employment. It is our hope that more businesses and companies can do the same.” Said Mr Vaoliko.
“There is already a lot of support for persons with disabilities in terms of their education through MESC and Service Providers however, there is not much emphasis on employment pathways and definitely not many people with disabilities are employed. “
SWMRA’s President said the experience working with young people who have hearing impairments has shown her that people with disabilities come with unique skills and capabilities that are valuable to their industry.
“I believe that our Industry is able to offer a lot of job opportunities for individuals with disabilities,” said Ms Keil, “for that reason, we want to create a more inclusive workplace which is why we have been in talks with SENESE about learning basic Sign Language so we can communicate better with our employees.”
“We look forward to implementing our e-waste project which will open more job opportunities for them. We have a lot of projects in place but funding is the only challenge we have right now but we intend to up-skill our workers from SENESE and hire more individuals who have disabilities because of their outstanding work ethics and professional attitude.”