NEW TRAINING FOR DEAF FARMERS IS A BIG SUCCESS
Members of the deaf community are now the newest recipients of certification in the Backyard Gardening Project. The 4-week initiative was a joint collaboration of The Deaf Heart Project, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), FarmFinder Global and the Ministry of Agriculture. Training sessions were held at the Irving Wilson School during the month of November to introduce participants to farming and gardening techniques. Each participant was also awarded starter home gardening kits to put their new skills in action.
Founder of The Deaf Heart Project and reigning Miss World Barbados, Ms. Ché Greenidge, said at the closing ceremony held last Friday she was proud of all the participants’ achievements and the great enthusiasm shown by both the participants and the facilitators. “I want to thank IICA, FarmFinder Global and the Ministry of Agriculture for their openness to adapting their program to incorporate reasonable accommodations for my deaf colleagues. This experience was a first for all parties but I had no doubts it would be successful. I always say – inclusion is just one decision away!” This project is part of a larger goal of economic independence for the deaf community.
National Program Technical Officer of IICA, Mr. Damian Hinds, said he was very pleased to work with the group and now better understands the different challenges and nuances within the deaf community. “Adapting the program was something we were very willing to do. We are much better prepared in working with this demographic and are ready to share this program with other deaf communities in our partnering Caribbean territories.”
Although official training has come to an end, the deaf community will have continual support from the Ministry of Agriculture. Senior Agricultural Assistant of the Extension Department, Ms. Dawn Johnson, shared “We are always available to assist the group in any way needed.” Johnson joyously said she wished she had more time for training and hopes to extend the program in future. “I am very pleased with how the program went overall. This was a new experience for me working with the Deaf and I found I am the one who had to do the adjusting – there’s definitely more for me to learn. I can say the group participated very well and learned quickly.”
Participants shared that they looked forward to coming to the sessions every week and are now excited to start their home gardens to have a new way to save money and generate potential income. Greenidge also made closing remarks thanking the Principal of the Irving Wilson School, Ms. Alleyne, and her staff for facilitating the training sessions on the premises. Interpreting was facilitated by Mrs. Bonnie Leonce of Signature Interpretations complements FarmFinder Global.