The Montserrat Association for Persons with Disabilities re-elected Harjinder Jutle to serve as president for another year, during its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday afternoon at the Brades Arts & Education Centre.
Jutle, who currently sits on the international body which represents for Persons with Disabilities for North America and the Caribbean, said she was pleased to serve again and believes there is much more work to be done.
The president told the gathering that while the MAPD has made significant strides to move international bodies to recognise Montserrat and its position, the local laws and enacted policies do not reflect the same support. A major challenge for the local charity is the lack of staff or financial backing to allow it to achieve more results. Jutle, said what they have achieved has been through the goodwill of MAPD members and a supportive community partners.
Montserrat continues to receive pressure from the international disability council to sign up for the Convention on Rights for persons with disabilities.
Craig Brewin, who will once again serve as the MAPD’s outreach officer, said they have been included in several local consultations but their input is often ignored. A good example of this, was the MAPD-endorsed designs for the tourism restrooms for the beach which altered and built with steps.
The main issue, Brewin says is that the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) says disabilities is a local welfare issue and as such cannot pressure the government to enact the relevant legislation. This despite, the United Nations General Assembly stating that it was the UK’s responsibility to see it done.
While the local labour laws do speak to equal opportunities and rights for persons no matter their abilities, it gives an exception to the Government which applies archaic General Orders policies which is discriminatory on several levels.
Vice President of the association Steve “Jester” Weekes said that every employee of the Government of Montserrat is at risk. Weekes was sent home after he was unable to continue doing his job once he lost most of his eyesight. He said as the government is not being held to task to ensure that workers can continue to perform their duties even when differently abled, it means that a healthy worker today could be rendered unemployed tomorrow were they to experience a physical injury.
Guest Speaker for the AGM was Permanent Secretary (ag) for Education Lyston Skerritt. He commended the MAPD for their advocacy and encouraged them to continue as there are people who are speaking up for them in the rooms he is in and insisting that their views and needs are considered.
Skerritt said his ministry’s new Sports & Recreation policy will acknowledge and include persons with disabilities. To this end, all future upgrades and development of sports and recreational facilities will ensure that everyone, including differently abled people, will be able to have access and can use them without hindrance. Adopting the policy, he added, will mean agreeing to equity for all.
The new board of the MAPD for 2021/22 is as follows:
- President – Harjinder Jutle
- Vice President – Steve “Jester” Weekes
- Secretary – Brent Schuffler
- Treasurer – Nadia Duberry
- Youth Representative – Vacant
- Projects & Partnerships Officer – Nerissa Golden
- Campaigns & Communications Officer – Craig Brewin
- Events Planner – Geffen Gerald
- Events Planner Assistant – Dr. Sinclair
- Memberships Officer – Jennifer Joseph
- Men’s Representative – George Tuitt
- Women’s Representative – Janet Weekes
Learn more about the non-profit by contacting them Montserrat Association for Persons with Disabilities | Facebook