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Braulio, a cobbler, trains other people with disabilities in his trade


Inclusion | Cuba | PUBLISHED ON March 13th 2024
Close-up portrait of Braulio looking into the camera and smiling.

Braulio Milián Milián in his workshop | © L. López Montoto / HI

In Pinar del Río, in the north-west of Cuba, HI is supporting the vocational inclusion of people with disabilities to help them improve their own living conditions and those of their families.

For several years now, Braulio Milián Milián has been opening the doors of his workshop to all those wanting to learn his trade, teaching them how to sew, glue and repair shoes. An inclusive approach to vocational inclusion supported by HI.

Meeting the challenge of vocational inclusion

Picture of Braulio in his workshop. © L. López Montoto / HIIn 2011, Cuban organisations of people with disabilities estimated that almost half of the people with disabilities fit to work were not in employment, a situation that has worsened since 2020 and the Covid-19 crisis. The lack of employment opportunities for people with disabilities weighs heavily on their living conditions and those of their caregivers, most of whom are women.

To address this situation, HI is helping people with disabilities to build professional projects. The project facilitators train them, provide them with the materials they need to launch their business and raise awareness in their communities.

Braulio has benefited from HI’s support to develop his shoemaking and repair workshop in the municipality of Pinar del Río. He explains that many of his customers are surprised by the quality of his work: "They say to me: even though you only have one hand, your work is really good.” When they see my disability, they think it's impossible for me to make or repair their shoes as well as I do. But you can learn anything. Hard work pays off and if you persevere, you can succeed”.

"I'm very motivated by the project, especially because I can help other people with disabilities to get a decent job. When it comes to enabling people to find a job and making the world of work a more inclusive place, this project is a real success story," he says, smiling broadly.

Developing new opportunities

Since the project was launched in his village, Braulio has been teaching other people with disabilities the art of making and repairing shoes. HI recently provided him with new equipment and tools to improve the conditions for receiving and training new apprentices in his workshop.

"At the moment, I'm training two women. One of them already knows the trade well, while the other is discovering it and is very keen to learn. What's more, thanks to the training courses organised by the project, I'm learning how to become a good facilitator at my community workshop. Several people who want to learn shoemaking have already contacted me. It's a great opportunity for people who have trouble finding a job."

The "Inclusive Pinar del Río project for the economic inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities and their families, particularly women and young people" is  being implemented by HI and the Cuban authorities with funding from the Government of Quebec. The project was launched in April 2022 and it will run until March 2024. It supports 449 people with disabilities and their families, as well as 80 businesses and cooperatives.

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