In Gear | Rotary in Southern New Zealand In Gear - Issue 3 - Page 17

terrible things that happen, which is very easy to do, because we know that it is just horrific – people just get left behind, targeted, recruited because of their disabilities,” Robbie says. “But, for me, looking more at solutions is something that aligns with my philosophy, and how can we take their positive experiences that have led them to a place of survival and use that to inform future humanitarian response to conflicts, future policies. “The idea is that the conflict zone is a magnified, extreme situation; if you focus on people in the most vulnerable of circumstances – and I don’t think people with disabilities should be blanketed as vulnerable, but they often are – if we can shine the light on that, and get human rights being addressed in that conflict situation, then, my theory is, that other human rights will naturally have occurred. “Disability affects people of all kinds – if you address the rights of the disability community then the likes of women’s rights and children’s rights would apply and be part of it.” At the end of 2015, Robbie left Attitude to return to Dunedin to study for her PhD full-time. Another very special project was also starting to pick up steam. Robbie and a small group of like-minded friends had been throwing around concepts for frameworks to support people with disabilities into employment and business, with an emphasis on sustainability and inclusivity. The ghastly images of the scenes from the institution in Mexico remained burned in her conscience. “This is a worldwide problem, so, we thought, how can we use business to change people’s perspective of diversity? “We can look at some of the really cool things we’ve seen go on around the world – I’m thinking, like, Trade Aid, Fairtrade – new systems of trade and business that pay attention to the supplier or the farmer. I love these brands, but none of these has disability on the agenda. “I’m really passionate about giving people the opportunity to define what they want, what their needs are and how their future is going to be played out.” While the ‘charity model’, Robbie says, has its place, it wasn’t a framework the group wanted to explore for their initiative. “It hasn’t always done the best thing for human rights in the sense that the charity model of disability has been all about ‘poor disabled people’, or ‘we’ll give you some coins on the street’, and that kind of pity party.” They, instead, decided on what’s known as the ‘universal design’ approach. “The whole idea of universal design is removing barriers, not for one particular sector of society, but to make it more accessible to everyone.” Robbie and her friends asked themselves key questions. What can we do to train and employ people with disabilities? How can we show other employers and businesses that it’s possible? How can we be the living proof? “We started thinking, we’ve got people in cafés in New Zealand employing disabled people, we’ve got attitude, we’ve got different things – but, what if we extended that and started looking at the entire value chain of a product?” Then, Robbie and her team woke up and smelled the … “Coffee – we just really love coffee. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s marketable. And, something that’s really come out is that coffee brings people together. Anyone of any background can enjoy a coffee.” Page 17