We just want jobs - Visually impaired persons say they are simply seeking meaningful employment
"I don't think Jamaica is a country that caters to or put things in place for the visually impaired. We are just not getting by," said Sherlette Black.
The 46-year-old was among three persons who visited THE STAR yesterday, hoping to get the attention of the Government or anyone willing to offer them a job and assistance.
Black, who was speaking on behalf of the trio, said that they are not seeking any handouts. Instead, she said that they want meaningful employment so that they can live fulfilling lives.
Black said that she is a trained customer service representative, having completed studies in Buffalo, US, and she is also a certified massage therapist with the HEART Trust/NTA.
However, after being hit by a car in 2011, she said that she has been unable to secure employment.
"Even though I am a trained massage therapist, I can't get anywhere to operate my business. I used up all the little money I got from singing on the buses to do a launch earlier this year, but persons did not turn up for it. My business is registered, but I don't know where to turn because everywhere I go it's like there is a major wall built up," she said.
Black, who also placed third in the 2015 JCDC Festival Song Competition, currently suffers from a throat infection and was advised by her doctor not to sing until the conditions clears up.
The mother of two also added that she was attending The Mico University College in the last school year, but said she will not be returning because the institution does not adequately provide for the visually impaired.
"I was studying guidance and counselling, but I have to be relying on my memory because I can't use a computer in the class because the students get their notes from a projector and that doesn't work for me. Some of the stuff were emailed to me, but it's hard, so I won't be going back. I just want to start my business," said Black, who noted that she has also done numerous interviews without any success.
Things are no different for her cousin George Mitchell, who told THE STAR that he has been unable to gain employment for more than 40 years.
Twenty-five-year-old Ramon Hewitt is also faced with a similar situation, stating that although he is certified as a data entry clerk and a massage therapist, all doors have been shut in his face.
"My mother tried really hard with me even when persons told her that I was going to be a cruff. I want to help her and help myself, but it's hard because no one is willing to help us," he said.
Like the others, Hewitt said that he is sometimes faced with negative criticisms, and oftentimes visually impaired persons are labelled as beggars.
"It's like from some people see you with a cane, they think we are beggars, and we don't want to be labelled as that. There are times when I will stand inside a supermarket waiting to cash, but because people don't see the money they will shove a pile of $1 coins in our hands. We don't want to take it, but we nuh waa hear say we 'facety'," he said.
Like Black and Mitchell, Hewitt said he is imploring the nation to assist them in whatever way they can as it relates to gaining steady employment.
"It's like our education is not important, and we don't want to depend on our family forever. Please just help us, give us a chance," he said.
Persons wishing to assist the trio may contact Sherlette Black at 876-774-1438, George Mitchell at 876-534-3939 and Ramon Hewitt at 876-492-1390 or 876-782-8968.