They are among 46 workers currently attached with Bengkel Seri Sembilan, a vocational centre in Mambau which opened in 1977 to provide skills-based training and employment opportunities to the disabled community.
Set up under the auspices of the Negri Sembilan Social Welfare Department and Negri Sembilan Disabled People’s Association, the workshop offers simple jobs like printing and folding envelopes, as well as in agriculture, livestock farming and tailoring.
Bengkel Seri Sembilan manager Harunarrsheed Mohd Ibrahim said the workers are supervised by 10 staff members, three of them disabled themselves.
He said before being absorbed as full-time workers at the workshop, they were first interviewed with those accepted undergoing training for three months.
“During training, we give them various tasks to perform so that we can assess their abilities. Some of them are good and can be hired as workers after just two weeks to a month of training.
“If they get a better job opportunity elsewhere, we won’t stop them from leaving. But most find it difficult to get jobs in other places.
“They are allowed to work in our workshop for as long as they want,” Harunarrsheed said, adding that there was someone who worked at the centre for 38 years until he died at the age of 67.
Bengkel Seri Sembilan is open to those physically disabled, having learning difficulties or with speech, hearing or mental impairments.
They must be able to fend for themselves and be 18 years and above and registered with the Social Welfare Department.
Today is International Day for People with Disabilities.
Out of the 46 workers currently stationed at the workshop, seven are physically disabled, 27 have learning difficulties and 12 are hearing impaired.
They also receive a monthly RM400 disability allowance from the department. Those who work more than 10 days a month are given a special allowance of RM150.
According to Harunarrsheed, the centre currently supplies envelopes to over 400 government departments and agencies.
The completed envelopes are printed with the address and logo of the department or agency concerned before they are delivered to them.
The orders for envelopes can generate sales worth up to RM120,000 a month, depending on its sizes, he added.
Harunarrsheed said some of the workers could save up to RM60,000 during their stint at the workshop as they were provided with food and lodging.
About 0.8ha of the 5.6ha plot on which Bengkel Seri Sembilan is located has been planted with banana, lemongrass and tapioca, as well as leafy vegetables such as kailan and kangkung.
“We have also planted fruit trees like durian, soursop, mango, jackfruit, cempedak, mangosteen, coconut and longan,” he said, adding that they have also planted mushrooms that could generate sales of between RM500 and RM600.
In January this year, they embarked on planting chillies and are targeting to grow 5,000 polybags of chillies.
Some of the workers are also involved in rearing chickens, Harunarrsheed said, adding that he hoped to introduce cattle farming soon. — Bernama