By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Deaf Association of Guyana (DAF) in collaboration with Partners of the Americas yesterday launched the second phase of its ‘Skills Development and Income Generation through Shade House Farming’ project.
The Agricultural based project aims to improve the livelihoods of youth attending the four special needs schools throughout the country.
The schools involved are the David Rose School for Handicapped Children (Georgetown), the Special Needs School, East Bank Demerara (Diamond), the New Amsterdam Special Needs School and the Linden Centre for Special Children.
Minister of Human Services, Jennifer Webster formally opened the project at the David Rose School for Handicapped Children in Georgetown that has made significant progress with its shade house project.
According to Coordinator of Partners of the Americas, Kelvin Craig they provided training, ongoing technical assistance, as well as an initial supply of fertilizer and seedlings.
“At the end of the project it is expected that the targeted schools will have a sustainable agricultural program, particularly but not only for deaf students. The desired outcome is that students will leave school with a marketable skill and be better prepared for future employment or self-employment,” he said.
He explained that during the first phase, which officially started in March, approximately 100 students, 12 teachers and some parents benefited from training sessions in hydroponic agriculture facilitated by Partners of the Americas.
Subsequently, students and teachers put theory into practice by establishing a container garden at their respective schools.
“This called for the application of new skills, for discipline and teamwork. Parents were encouraged to take an active interest,” Craig said.
Additionally, the second phase saw the erection of the shade houses in order to implement a micro hydroponic enterprise where students will plant, grow, reap and sell a variety of vegetables.
Meanwhile, Minister Webster commended the students for a job well done and said even though they are differently abled;they contribute in a major way to the economy through agriculture.
Seeing the success of the Shade House at the David Rose School for handicapped, she pledged through her Ministry to have another such project available at the school.
Minister Webster also encouraged the students to continue to use their talent to the best of their abilities and said farming should be used as a means of generating additional income and promote entrepreneurial skills among students.
The produce will be sold to teachers, parents and establishments. Profits from sales will be used to sustain the program when the project comes to an end and the remainder will go into a fund to be established for each school, managed in collaboration with DAG and in line with the objectives of the Disability Fund, namely the promotion of vocational training and income generation.