Help Needed for Start-up Loans to Foster Disabled People’s Independence
One of PROJIMO’s main objectives is to help disabled young people become more self-reliant physically, socially, and economically. It seeks to equip participants with a wide variety of skills, first for self-care and daily living, then for helping others or for earning a living.
In keeping with the self-help philosophy of PROJIMO, many participants learn skills related to enablement of other disabled parsons, for example wheelchair making, brace making, prosthetics, physiotherapy, and peer counseling. The level of expertise achieved by disabled workers at PROJIMO is often outstanding, It has allowed many of them to later obtain gainful employment or to provide important services upon return to their own villages or cities.
In mastering these rehabilitation-related skills, PROJIMO workers often also learn basic technical skills. For example, Roberto and Marcelo, who learned arc and acetylene welding in PROJIMO’s wheelchair shop, later set up their own welding, shop. In keeping PROJIMO’s records, some disabled women have mastered bookkeeping and accounting skills. And those involved in the ongoing PROJIMO evaluation project are now learning computer skills.
Given Mexico’s high unemployment rate, it makes little sense to train disabled people for jobs where they would have to compete against a large pool of non-disabled applicants. The partial exception is learning skills in the disability field, where personal experience with disability becomes an advantage. Realistically, though, the best option for many disabled people is to learn skills for self-employment. In PROJIMO, training has focused on activities where individuals can later set up a small workshop or service in their home. Such activities include weaving plastic-mesh chairs, sandle making, shoe repair, sewing, toy making, and teaming to run a small store. Many disabled persons who have earned one of these skills at PROJIMO are now working independently. For example, Rubén has a business weaving and reweaving plastic, metal-frame chairs, and is earning more than his able-bodied brothers.