This story was originally featured in the Nov 2017 edition of The Next Step.
HI Goodwill Ambassador Jessica Cox raised awareness about the importance of people with disabilities accessing decent, waged employment through visits to HI inclusion projects in Nepal and the Philippines in September.
In Kathmandu, Nepal, Jessica visited a center where women with disabilities learn new job skills. Some now print Braille books for local school libraries, while others make incense, candles, small felt animals, and clothing.
The work is consistent, and earns these women a fair wage. Jessica was particularly touched by Bhuwan, a woman with a disability who gained confidence and independence through the training. Bhuwan now owns a modified motorbike that she uses to get around with ease.
Nearly 2,600 miles away, in the middle of a rice paddy outside Roxas City, Philippines, Jessica met April Joy, 24, who has physical and intellectual disabilities. Because of HI’s work after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the teams got to know April, seeing that she had untapped skills that would help her earn money if only she could be given the chance.
Our donors provided April with her own computer and wifi access. She’s able to charge local students a small fee for helping them conduct online research and typing for school, offering a healthy supplement to her parents’ income from farming rice.
Jessica encouraged everyone she met, as well as people who learned about her story on local TV shows. However, she says she was the one most inspired by the work we’re doing to ensure that people with disabilities can reach their goals.