How This Jamaican Made Her Passion Her Paycheque

For over 12 years, Mrs. Paulette Williams has spent her days doing the things she loves. While many of us may never get the chance to say the same, for Mrs. Williams, serving as the Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping Instructor at the Abilities Foundation of Jamaica, helps her combine not only her love for teaching but her love of nature.
Upon visiting the foundation, a wide array of beautifully arranged flowers and plants can be seen displayed in old, painted tires recycled to serve as plant pots. In addition, the school has a small garden where students assist in planting crops such as corn, cucumber pak-choi and string beans.
Most of these works have been fostered and maintained by Mrs. Paulette Williams and the students.
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Mrs. Williams interacting with a trainee
 When asked about what inspired her to work at the Abilities Foundation, which currently trains over 60 differently-abled students in vocational education, Mrs. Williams recounted an experience revealing that the reason was deeper than her love of nature.
 “I don’t like to use the term ‘persons with disabilities’ because I don’t see them as different than anyone one of us, because all of us have our challenges…
I remember we planted a crop of cucumber and for one of the trainees, it was the first time she had ever seen a cucumber grown and she came to me and she held my hand and she grab me and said, ‘Miss Williams! Miss Williams! Come, look!’ And I went with her because I didn’t know what she was showing me and when I went around to the plot of land, she showed me the cucumber growing. My body was in chills, some little cold bumps.
She said to me, ‘Miss, this is the first mi see something like this.’ And I said, ‘Is not mi do it you know. It’s you.’ And she said, ‘True, miss.’ Things like that really inspire me.”
Although Williams pursued studies in the field of Business Education, she found that she was eventually drawn to the field of Agriculture and later completed her studies in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscaping at the Ebony Park Academy.
The Anthurium and the Orchid, two of the most beautiful and long-blooming flowers in the world are the favorites of Mrs. Williams. And, because the plants are also sold, Williams hopes that in the future the institution will be able to expand its plant diversity in order to supply the demands of their customers.
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(Plants in the growth stage)

Mrs Williams said,

“I would love for us to have a wide variety of plants because we not only propagate and maintain, we also sell. And when you build up a clientele and they come by to purchase plants and you don’t have it, they feel very disappointed… We’re at a very good location and people would rather spend their money with us because of the nature of the institution. The money goes towards the institution.”
After Williams disclosed that the students had won first place in a previous School Garden competition, up against a number High schools in St. Andrew, she encouraged that persons contemplating attending the Abilities Foundation should do so because there are many future benefits and job opportunities.
“The motto is: Opportunity, not Charity. Not because you have a disability means you should sit down or beg or just throw up your arm and say nothing is happening for you. First and foremost, when you come, focus. Because there is bad happening everywhere…so don’t come and be a follower, be a leader. And just learn your thing because we have a lot of stuff here for you. We have persons who have come here and trained and they are now gainfully employed.
A young lady, she came here, she had a physical disability and she is now at First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union. And I myself, I have some trainees who I have trained over the years and they’re now gainfully employed.”
Mrs. Williams says that a good day at work is one in which the trainees complete their tasks and are encouraged to work towards reaping the benefits of the different skills they learn.
There is a popular saying which goes, ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Although many persons may not be able to say that they awake every day to spend it doing the things they love, we can all, nonetheless, take pattern from Mrs. Paulette Williams who simply lives to watch the world as it grows.
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Lisa Hamilton
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