FIFTEEN people with disabilities started their new jobs as data capturers at the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) last week.
Coega chief executive Pepi Silinga said the importance of a programme which empowers people with disabilities in the workplace should never be underestimated.
“We challenge other entities to meet and exceed our efforts and use this as a platform to multiply the opportunities available to people with disabilities. In fact, I would like to challenge Discovery, based here in the Coega IDZ, to do the same and set a precedent for these types of initiatives,” Silinga said.
He said the organisation would learn from the new employees, who have a range of disabilities including visual, hearing and physical, to improve the CDC’s readiness to take in more people with disabilities.
One of the new employees, Amanda Wellem, 27, from Zwide, who is visually impaired, said the opportunity meant she could become the person she used to be.
“Before I lost my sight I worked at Home Affairs and I was an independent woman and breadwinner – overnight I became blind after a retinal detachment and I lost my job,” Wellem said.
“I went totally blind in the one eye and in the other I can only see shadows. I was completely traumatised and I couldn’t accept the situation. But I told myself I had to look forward. So I taught myself braille and met people in the same situation who taught me how to cope and become independent again. Of course finding a job was a struggle. That’s why this opportunity means so much to me.”
The new recruits will work on a critical information, communication and technology project as the CDC streamlines its data capturing processes using the Project Information Management System (PIMS) application. More than 500 projects will be moved over to PIMS and the recruits will be responsible for dedicated and committed information input over a period of three months.
The call for applicants with disabilities went out in May, said Thandi Rayi, CDC corporate social investment manager. “Although the contract is for three months, there might be scope for an extension.”