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.
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.
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.”