Helping the Disabled in Chile Get Jobs and
a Role in Society 

By Ana Mari Urrutia A.

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People from different organizations were motivated to start small enterprises and were enthusiastically looking for work according to their different abilities. There is still a long road to travel though, in order to really include the disabled in the work force in Chile. 

We know that in those places where there has been an ICA course, something really good has happened: participants have awakened, they were motivated, they created new possibilities of organizing themselves in order to work and develop different projects. Up to this point we have given 54 ToP training courses to 1,296 participants all through Chile during six years of hard work.

We have worked with several CCDs not only in Santiago but in many places north and south of Chile. This year, 2012 we expect to give 20 courses.

The great plus of this project is that it unites private enterprises and the Employment Service of the Chilean Government (SENCE). This is a public entity that finances our courses in order to attain help for the disabled. The participant enterprises do it through the RSE (Enterprises’ Social Responsibility). Besides this, they completely trust the tools we use in ToP Methodology, in order to get results that contribute to attain the goals of the program. This is a very important initiative. Its leader today is Mrs. Anita Briones. She is a very important Chilean entrepreneur at SOFOFA.

The stimulation, motivation and enthusiasm that these courses can result in help us realize that we should consider repeating them whenever they are necessary. We want to thank all those who have been involved in this very special and different “Program for Human Development” on behalf of those persons that suffer disabilities in Chile. This program relies on ToP Methodology to awaken the spirit of everybody and of the organizations involved and helps them plan new strategies in their work so as to include all the disabled in society and work.

Fourteen years ago Mr. Bruno Casanova invited me to participate at SOFOFA’s (the Federation of Chilean Industry’s) Commission for the Disabled. This Society is in charge of associating different Chilean industrial enterprises. I started working together with the General Manager of the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute (Telethon), Mr. Sergio Oyadenel, and though we were highly motivated, at the beginning we were not at all sure what this Commission was seeking. It included representatives of the Work Ministry, Health Ministry and Education Ministry. There were also representatives of the Security Mutual (ACHS), FONADIS (National Fund for the Disabled), some very important entrepreneurs such as Mr. Raúl Sahli and Mr. Casanova and Municipality representatives. This Commission had a total of 16 members.

At the beginning we decided to establish in each Municipality in Chile a Communal Commission for the Disabled (CCD) that would let us support the disabled inhabitants and their families in each of these communities. As time passed, we realized that the big issue was to include the disabled in the work force, by providing the means for all of them to get work, regardless of age. It’s a painful fact that when the disabled become adults they have great difficulty getting any kind of work.

ICA-Chile has a long history in this country designing programs for vulnerable people, especially young ones physically challenged. The results we had had with our program for youth using ToP Methodology had been excellent, so we decided to try it on the adult members of the CCDs. We started giving courses that took 30 to 34 hours in 2006. 

Ana Mari Urrutia Arestizabal , Was Executive Manager at the Instituto de Rehabilitación Infantil ( an institution dedicated to help physically challenged children) from 1973 to 1995. Since 1997 she is Executive Secretary of the Board of the Sociedad Pro-Ayuda al Niño Lisiado and Theleton Fundation, that’s in charge of the Institution. Also she´s part of the SOFOFA (Sociedad de Fomento Fabril) National Comission for disabled people.  She is a specialist in Participation Technology, trained at the Institute of Cultural Affairs in Chicago ( 1984) and in Phoenix, Arizona ( 1995-96). She is now Trainer and Board´s Secretary at ICA Chile.

This article first appeared in our July 2012 issue

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