Improving working conditions to help disabled people integrate into society

Working with an institution for mentally disabled people, was completely new for our colleagues from Ethylene & Sulfur Derivatives in San Lorenzo, Argentina. In fact, it meant quite a responsibility as well as a new challenge and they were very excited to help the CADI institute. Over the past 20 years, this institution has been active in helping disabled people prepare for the job market. It is well known in the area and our colleagues were determined to make a contribution to their worthwhile work and - through the intermediary of the Chamber of Commerce - they were introduced and discussed the possibilities with the staff.

The well-known Chinese saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time" is CADI’s motto and our colleagues were impressed to see the positive impact of their activities on the community. HR Site Coordinator, Alvaro Rodriguez Arias explained: "they teach more than a job; they teach a trade, they teach responsibilities and the value of being part of something bigger." Based on several discussions, our colleagues drew up a plan of action to help the institution to become even more effective. Support from the Community Program was granted and work could begin. As it became quite an ambitious project, they also convinced their colleagues from Buenos Aires to roll up their sleeves and join them in a journey that took several months.

The job was started by helping to build and paint (provided for free by Decorative Paints) a new production area for the workshop. Several teams were created consisting of employees with special (technical) knowledge such as HR, Electrical Maintenance, HSE and Production. These specialists helped empower the project by giving trainings in HSE, teaching the proper way to use personal protective equipment (PPE), and improving the electrical facilities as well as the production machinery (looms and sewing machines). The creation of a bigger production area not only facilitated the institution to employ more workers with disabilities but, what is even more important, resulted in safer working conditions.

The regular visits to CADI created a strong bond between our volunteering employees and the disabled people as well as the staff. In between jobs they organized a Karaoke show to have some fun with each other. The involvement of our employees not only helped to improve the place in matters of security of comfort but also made some volunteers discover that they had hidden talents. Clearly, a win-win situation for all involved, as Alvaro Rodriquez concluded: "the CADI project was a long journey. We made a big effort to complete this major community project and the results were comforting. I think that not only we helped them with materials things…we helped them to be part of our community. The mission of CADI is very important and we are proud to have been able to help and be part of it."