We have a farm of 4 acres where we train and empower our students on horticultural farming. It supplies food for our Centre and income to run programs by selling produce to the local community. Most importantly, it provides vocational training, employment and income for our students who enabling them to be more independent and to contribute to the community at large.
The training program starts when they are 16 years old and continues for 2 years. Once they are 18 years of age, we evaluate their ability to perform farming tasks and if they are able, we employ them to work as farmers in our farm. We prepare job contracts for them and open bank accounts into which their salary is paid.
It is important to note that the families wanted the money paid to them directly. The seemingly simple act of students/workers having a bank account in their name with the Centre as a custodian not only empowers the students/workers, helps them to learn an important life skill of managing money, but also helps to change the paradigm in which those with developmental disabilities are seen as a burden and non-contributing members of society.