‘Building friendships is special at Women and Girls with Disabilities

Wednesday September 11, 2019 Written by Published in Education
Raina Hetland cutting fabric for tote bags at the Women’s and Girls with Disability centre at Takuvaine. 19091005 Raina Hetland cutting fabric for tote bags at the Women’s and Girls with Disability centre at Takuvaine. 19091005

Fabric tote bags mady by representatives of Cook Islands women with disabilities are proving so popular they have sold out.


But for those in the know, there are still some Polynesian-inspired handmade purses available for purchase at the new headquarters of the Cook Islands National Disability Council, now located at Takuvaine.

The revenue from these purchases goes back to the women who made the handicrafts.

Destiny Tara Tolevu, coordinator of the centre, said the women who worked at the centre didn’t feel comfortable working elsewhere and preferred to stay at the office where they felt more relaxed.

Although there were organisations and businesses on the island backing the group, Tolevu believed there were women with severe impairments who did not receive enough provisions.

The women depend on their families for help take care of them and for financial support – and this means providing a place where they have the materials and tools to create products to earn for themselves is important.

“This is about improving the economic contribution of women with disabilities,” Tolevu said.

“Our mission is to support women and girls with any disability in the Cook Islands to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life deeply embedded within and positively valued by their community.”

Tolevu believed all people, especially women and girls with disabilities, were entitled to opportunities to mature, learn, and grow in an environment that would support their passions, interests, dreams, and goals.

She welcomed those in the community who could spend time with the women talking on topics such as budgeting money, mentoring and just popping in for a chat. It would be wonderful for the women, she said, as “building friendships is special.”

Demonstrations showcasing cooking simple meals for their family with local produce, planting a vegetable garden that is easily accessible and to maintain, fabric painting and daily like skills, would be a boost as well, for the “women love working with their hands”.

Their vision is to provide an environment that will give support, strengthen and empower all women and girls with any disability, in their relationships through recreational, educational, social, spiritual, health, safety and wellness opportunities that are inclusive to all people.

Tolevu would like a special mention to Vonnia’s for the fabrics and zips and all those who contribute to the project.

The Cook Islands National Disability Council office is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm, phone 20122.

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