The Rise and Shine and Jigsaw graduates with their supporters, families and friends. 21112310.
Fourteen clients were presented with graduation certificates of the landmark pilot project aimed at preparing and supporting people with disabilities to enter safely and confidently into the workforce.
“To have a job is
a basic human right because work gives you so many things, it brings you joy,
friends, connections, and brings you a purpose,” says Ministry of Internal Affairs
secretary Anne Herman.
Herman made these
comments in her address at the double graduation ceremony of the Disability
Employment Pathway pilot project ‘Rise and Shine’ and the Australian government-funded
programme ‘Fighting Chance’ that was held on Tuesday at The Rarotongan Beach
Resort & Lagoonarium.
“We want to give
people with disabilities equal opportunities to work, to love, to raise
families and do anything their heart desires,” said Herman, who also
acknowledged the support of UNESCO, the Creative Centre, Internal Affairs and
those who were involved in the delivery of the first time programme.
were presented with graduation certificates of the landmark pilot project, and
Herman said: “you are the class of 2021, you have broken barriers and you have
created a new path for persons with disabilities who come after you”.
The Rise and Shine
pilot project disability coordinator Caroline Tixier said: “This is an
initiative to help Cook Islands people who live every day with a disability.”
“We started with
the basics, Cook Islands people with a disability are often marginalised and
excluded from economic and social opportunities.”
Tixier noted that
the country’s 2016 census indicated that 24 percent of the population over the
age of 10 had a form of a physical disability.
that there is a high number of disabilities here, therefore there is a strong
need for greater participation and inclusion and this is their opportunity to
the 20-week programme had a common message, “they want the same things that we
want, they want the opportunities to work, they want to included and they are
proud,” Tixier added.
Sam Kautai and Rochelle Jessie shared their personal experiences.
Kautai said: “I’ve
never done something like this, and I’m looking to doing more like this for my
future instead of just sitting there like I’m locked down in jail.”
Born in the Cook
Islands, Kautai had started working at the age of 12, later he moved to Australia
where he had been offered work. “It was the worst job in my life, I got beaten
up at work and so I decided to return home.”
Back on Rarotonga,
he worked as a labourer, a job he loved. “But somehow I got a bit big-headed
with too much money in my hands and I got too excited, got into a motorbike
accident that put me in a coma for eight months, but here I am still alive
today,” said Kautai.
Kautai had never
known of the Creative Centre until he became a client, and credits Caroline Tixier
for steering the Rise and Shine project.
“That’s the only
thing I’m really enjoying, and would like to give a big thank you to everyone
here… and it won’t stop here,” he said.
Four years ago,
Jessie suffered a stroke. “It was very scary because I couldn’t do anything.
She believes her
faith in God “has given me the opportunity to live my life again”.
Jessie was pleased
to be given the option of undertaking the disability employment certification
programme and proud of all the participants and their achievements.
Herman and the founder
of the Cook Islands Women and Girls with Disabilities Organisation, Tuki Wright
presented the Jigsaw and Rise and Shine certification to clients: Barry Sword,
Dawn Hosking, Helen Tomokino, Jordon Clifford, Margaret Makakea Nooroa Taae,
Reon Enoka, Samuel Kautai, Tia Napa, Tuakana Puna, William Estall, Akaiti Ngaia,
and Rochelle Jessie.
Faith Matapo from
the island of Mangaia also received the Rise and Shine certificate.
friends, Member of Parliament Te-Hani Brown, and government stakeholders
attended the unique ceremony that was held at the Rarotongan Beach Resort &