Montserrat Association of Persons with Disabilities (MAPD) is ten years old today, April 14, 2022, and is looking back on a decade of unprecedented achievement.
The first president, Joseph “King” Kirwan served for four years before being succeeded by Agnes Lampriere and the current president, Harjinder Jutle. The late Thomas O’Garro was the first vice President, and ten years on we have Steve “Iceman” Weekes in the role. The organisation still has active members who have been with the organisation since the first meeting. These include Nadia Duberry, Jane Weekes, and George Tuitt.
The success of the organisation over the past years has been of international significance. It presented evidence to the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and participated in consultations with the UN C24 Committee and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It meets each year with the FCDO’s Financial Aid Mission to Montserrat to press for greater inclusivity in the CIPREG programme, and disability now forms an important component of the business case for aid to the island.
MAPD lobbying led to recommendations on electoral reform and a UN General Assembly Resolution asking for more action to be taken on disability discrimination in Montserrat. MAPD has worked with the government to develop a new building code, a tourism strategy and access strategy, public toilet design for the beaches and school, an older people’s strategy, the new port, and the sports and recreation policy.
The organisation ran a Specialist Education programme which provided specialist support advice and guidance and contributed to teacher’s professional development days. It also established a disability equipment store, organised a music and drama event, and a sports day. It has received several guests from other Caribbean islands such as St Kitts and St Lucia and is a key player in Disabled People’s International – North America and the Caribbean.
MAPD is the first disability organisation from a British Overseas Territory to be represented on the World Council of Disabled People’s International and is scheduled to make presentations at this year’s UWI disability conference on the development of the health service in Montserrat, and at the Harkin Institute in Belfast on employment law. MAPD President Harjinder Jutle, is scheduled to speak later this month in London to help raise funds for the Montserrat National Trust’s EcoPlay project.
Jutle said “keeping a small organisation such as ours functioning over such a long period is a real tribute to everyone who has been a member or supported us. Most Legislative Assembly Members have been to one of our meetings at some point and many have given speeches. Many prominent members of the community and senior civil servants have also helped us maintain our influence and made our events a success. We think there is a lot more to come.”