Would you employ a blind person?
Partnerships between the private sector and NGOs are not new, but the nature of these relationships is broadening. A good model of this partnership is the project of Empowering and Building Capacities of Cadres of Blind young people. The project is supported by Orascom Telecom Holding Company (OTHC), powered by a German-bases NGO called the Integration Program for Persons with Social Needs (IPPSN), and implemented by the ambitious NGO “Development Association for Empowering Persons with Special Needs (DAESN)”.
Would you employ a blind person? What can be done to get blind people into work? Is it too expensive to employ blind people or is there just not enough faith in them? This is a success story of building effective partnerships between private sector companies and NGOs from Egypt and abroad with an ultimate goal of enabling the visually impaired to have equal opportunities of services and integrate in their society.
The project, started in May 2009, aims at training 160 of the blind university graduates to use information technology and communication in "Braille," which qualifies them for work in administrative areas and open them real opportunities for communication and integration in the job market. A key part of the project’s activities consists of developing the capacities of blind young people and providing them with job placement and follow up in companies and other work places.
The training provided by the project is divided into two parts: theoretical training on communication skills and practical training on the use of computer and the Internet.
According to DAESN's director, Lilli Atallah, our NGO rejects the current five percent quota of employing people with disabilities (according to Egypt's employment legislation) as ineffective, adding that the task must be to find real job opportunities for the blind. Most companies in the public or private sector tend to employ blind people without giving them the opportunities accorded to other employees.
“It was through the communication skills training course that provided our target group with best ways of dealing with persons whether colleagues or customers, enabling them to be able to work in some fields, such as Customer service Tele- Sales and Call Centers,” said Lily Atala.
“The most important issue in the project is that the beneficiary once completed his training course, an accessible Free Software is downloaded in the company where he will work,” she explained.
The Orascom Telecom Holding Company donates the Braille terminals and software, each of which costs 4,000 euros. While, IPPSN, a non-profit organization working in the field of integrating disabled, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups into the working Society, implements IT training in "Braille" for blind users of the project.
On January 10, 2010, the first three batches of 60 trainees graduated after completing their training courses. Their graduation ceremony was considered a new ground-breaking as a lot of businessmen/women who attended the event announced their support and their willingness to employ the trained blinds.
Fifty-five of the trainees are currently working with an average monthly salary of LE 800 – LE 1,200. The trainees are employed mostly by private sector companies such as Orascom Telecom, Armanious Group, Orman Schools and Organizations, Behmen Hospital, Aramex, The Engineering Industrial Company, Juhaina, B. Tech, and Lions Clubs.
According to Mona Ayad, Facilities Manager in Orascom Telecom, two Blind trainees are now serving as an Operator and a Receptionist at Orascom Telecom. They answer the International calls and report them through e-mails to their Seniors. “First it was very difficult for their colleagues to understand how they work, but after showing good performance and enthusiasm, they proved to be efficient employees, knowing their rights and duties,” says Ayad.
The Association also arranged an interview for one of its trainees in a reputable Company for a vacancy in its Human Resources. The trainee passed the interview successfully and got the job. "In my first job, many people treated me as if I were inferior with no capabilities. But after receiving the computer and communications skills training, I now feel more capable and can perform my job’s tasks efficiently," says Gerges Helal, a project trainee from the second batch.
Moreover, Eva Pharma Company has established a Tele Sales Department based on the project’s blind trainees.