Persons with Disabilities to benefit from Govt’s block making initiative

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The Ministry of Housing and Water and the Central Housing and Planning Authority in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, today launched a block making workshop for several persons within the differently-abled community, under the Community-based Employment Stimulation Program (CESP).

The opening ceremony for the workshop was held at the Guyana Society for the Blind at High Street, Werk-en-Rust Georgetown.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues and Chief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Mr. Sherwyn Greaves were all in attendance.

Minister Croal noted that the training will provide a number of economic opportunities and mitigate unemployment levels, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has created more challenges for persons living with disabilities.

“It has exacerbated the inequalities within communities and its impact is devastating to persons with disabilities, those who are unemployed, women and children, the elderly, indigenous and other minorities” Minister Croal noted. He also highlighted a number of other government initiatives including scholarships under the Guyana Learning Academy.
CESP is the brainchild of His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, officially launched in early May 2021 to provide economic opportunities for persons living in vulnerable communities.

Minister Rodrigues later made initiated the expansion of the programme for not only vulnerable communities but also persons in vulnerable groups, with inclusion of the Guyana Council of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD).

“Persons living with disabilities have a unique set of talent and skills to contribute toward the development of our country and towards their own personal upliftment and we want to be able to help them and to provide as many opportunities as possible,” said Minister Rodrigues.

Minister Rodrigues also noted a number of other interventions which has seen a number of differently-abled persons receiving house lots over the past year, and the provision of a plot of land for the construction of a new office for GCOPD.

The training will be done for two days (Wednesday, September 22, 2021 and Thursday, Thursday, September 23, 2021) for three hours each day. Some twelve visual impaired persons from the Guyana Society for the Blind and the Ruimveldt Parent Support Group are expected to be trained during this session. The trainees will be educated in the areas of block-making, money management, life skills and job readiness. The CH&PA is also looking to train another nineteen persons living with various disabilities in the next month.

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards will be testing the blocks to ensure that they meet the necessary specifications and quality. Minister Walrond, stated that her Ministry is pleased to be collaborating on any project that provides employment for small and micro-businesses/organizations and expressed her optimism at GCOPD’s competence and ability to meet quality standards.

An $875,000 block-making shed donated by CH&PA was also commissioned at the opening ceremony and a quantity of equipment handed over including wheelbarrows and spades. Programme Coordinator of GCOPD, Mr. Ganesh Singh, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, which he also noted will significantly improve their livelihood, as persons within the community encounter many challenges.

“I must say that we are very pleased that this is one component to the government’s quest to ensure persons with disabilities can be financially independent. Only two weeks ago, we would’ve had a meeting with His Excellency and he would’ve reiterated his government’s pledge to ensure that people with disabilities can be financially independent,” Singh expressed.

All blocks produced through the CESP programme are expected to supply contractors under CH&PA’s housing programmes, as the demand for construction materials increases. The project will run from 2021-2025 at an estimated cost of $20 million, however, $3.9M has been allotted to pilot the project in 2021.

To date, ten contractors have agreed to purchase blocks from the project to aid in the construction of 290 homes being built by CH&PA in Prospect, East Bank Demerara, and Cummings Lodge, Georgetown.