Opportunities for people with disabilities, especially those who are poor, to receive any sort of empowerment, let alone being received as a part of the workforce, remain few and far between. In Semarang City for example, in 2015, there were around 6,658 people with disabilities, 50% higher than in 2012, which was 3,557 people. Under this assumption, there are now approximately 10 thousand disabled people looking for jobs. To make matters worse, only 10 – 20% of them are absorbed by companies, while the remaining 80% are “sent” home to their families, feeling both discouraged and powerless.
Although a number of community organizations have taken some of them in and provided them with training opportunities, these are sporadic at best. Take Komunitas Sahabat Difabel (KSD) for instance. Established in 2015, this organization has more than 50 members with various types of disabilities under its wing, 60% of them youth aged 18-34 years old. Using its own limited funds, KSD has organized many activities to empower them and lift their spirit. Despite this, the founder and initiator, Noviana Dibyantari, feels they have so much more to offer.
“When engaging them in activities, I somehow feel they are not that enthusiastic. This makes me sad, because I know deep down they have a lot of potential and has just not been giving the right push”, said Novi.
Support from SINERGI for Equipping Work Skills
Fortunately, SINERGI, a program funded by USAID to mainstream poor & vulnerable youth into labor market in Indonesia, swooped in and chose KSD as one of 16 consortia to receive opportunity fund to equip its members with skills needed to enter the workforce. SINERGI is also looking to inclusively build the capacity of youth aged 18-34 years old, including people with disabilities. Since this is in line with KSD’s goals, there is a glimmer of hope for members of KSD.
Soon after, 30 KSD members, 11 of them disabled, were engaged in trainings provided by SINERGI, starting from soft skill training, cooperating with the Training Service Provider (BBPLK) of Semarang, followed up by hard skill training in sewing, cooperating with Training Center (LPK) Alwine and its partner company, Ida Modiste. Slowly but surely, Novi began to see positive changes in her members. The soft skill training has instilled them with enthusiasm and courage to be independent in doing essential, rudimentary things that was previously so difficult for them to do, such as changing their clothes and making their bed.
The most remarkable part came next, in the hard skill training, where their enthusiasm and willingness to learn and absorb new things was off the charts. This was in part due to SINERGI’s perfect timing in holding this training right after replenishing the spirit of these poor and vulnerable youth with soft skill training. Another part was because Ida, the owner of Ida Modiste, was also disabled. This filled them with a soaring sense of belonging and empowerment, not to mention the desire to be financially independent like her.
“When doing the hard skill training, they are filled with confidence and a sense of camaraderie, upon learning that Ida, the owner of Ida Modiste, was also disabled. They most likely feel that if Ida could manage to overcome her condition and become a well-known seamstress with her own company, they can do it too,” Novi stated.
Gerbang Hebat Award from the City Government of Semarang
Moreover, the news on the positive impact generated by SINERGI activities reached the ears of the Vice Mayor of Semarang, Hevearita Gunaryanti Rahayu, who alongside with Local Development Planning Agency staff and officials within the Local Work Units at the city and provincial level, attended the opening ceremony of the hard skill training.
Because of its ongoing engagement in SINERGI activities, the City Government of Semarang has awarded KSD with the Gerbang Hebat (Joint Initiative to Eradicate Poverty and Unemployment through Harmonization in Economy, Education, Ecosystem, and Ethos with the Community) award, given as a recognition for those actively involved in poverty reduction activities in Semarang City. In particular, it was KSD’s successful role in SINERGI’s hard skill training that became one of the criteria for giving this award to them.
"We are both surprised and grateful for receiving this award. We couldn’t have done it without SINERGI, which has accepted us with open arms, and provided opportunity to participate in their inspiring activities,” said Novi.
She added, “We will continue to positively contribute in SINERGI activities going forward, because it is a fantastic program, especially for people with disabilities. Thank you SINERGI!”
Wicaksono Prayogie (Knowledge Management Specialist – SINERGI)
Yeni Endah (Youth Champion SINERGI and member of KSD)
November 23, 2018