Start something – anything

Minister Steve Blackett hugs and has light words with founder of BARNOD, Lucene Skeete.
Minister Steve Blackett hugs and has light words with founder of BARNOD, Lucene Skeete.

Take the bull by the horns, and break off the horns if you must.

That was the strong advice to members of the disabled community by President of the Barbados National Organisation of the Disabled, Errol Hurley, and founder Lucene Skeete, as they urged these individuals to get up and become entrepreneurs.

Both Skeete and Hurley, as they addressed the organisation’s 30th anniversary launch, issued strong words to the community mixed with some frustration that persons with disabilities are still largely being marginalised, especially in the job market.

Skeete, who reflected on how far the organisation had come from when she first started it, noted that she still hoped in years to come that it would go further with the addition of young people.

“[I] am hoping that in the years to come that BARNOD would go further and that we would have a lot of young people and entrepreneurs in BARNOD, people working for themselves because when it comes to disabled and work, we are the last to get a job,” she said as members applauded.

“When we go for a job, people see our disability but they don’t see our ability and it is time that we in the disabled community get up and say we are able. We can do it just as good as you or even better. I don’t want to see any disabled person along the road begging. Whatever little skill you have make it work for you,” she admonished.

As a vendor, Skeete said she sold fish in season and corn and vegetables out of fish season, telling the disabled community they had rights they needed to exercise more.

President Hurley had similar words, expressing regret at how members of the community were treated, especially when trying to find work.

“[Although] I am proud to be here this morning, I am still sad because some persons with disabilities are still being treated not only by persons who do not know, but by businesses and offices in this country when we go trying to get help or trying to seek information, they treat us as if we have a plague. Not crying down our brothers and sisters, but as if we are those persons from Biafra.

“I want to say here publicly … that as president of this organisation I will stand up and fight for any one of these members or anyone that has a disability that come to me and ask for help because I will not be standing for it and I told the minister that,” said Hurley, indicating to Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett.

He told the community if they worked together, held each other’s hand, they would pull though; and even as he encouraged the idea of entrepreneurship, he told them that this same principle could apply to such self-employment.

If they used a barter-like system, said the president, someone who made stuff toys would be able to “sell” what they made to someone else who produced something else they needed and therefore keep the entrepreneurship trend going. (LB)

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