Retired CEO of the DADP, Nathalie Murphy
Retired CEO of the DADP, Nathalie Murphy

Seventeen thousand is a far cry from the $70,000 the Dominica Association of Persons with Disabilities (DAPD) hoped to raise from its annual Dollar Day event on 26th October 2022.

The Association embarks on several fund-raising initiatives throughout the year to garner monies which go towards its operational costs, among other commitments.

Dollar Day was conceptualized in the early days of the Association. The idea at the time was: if every Dominican contributed one dollar on that day, then the DAPD could easily reach its $70,000 mark. That was when Dominica's population stood at 70,000.

Over the decades, the DAPD has never reached its goal. But each year, it tries valiantly to do so.

Regardless of the just over $70,00$70,00 in donations from Dominicans and visitors alike, the DAPD remains forever grateful for whatever financial assistance it receives, whether from the private or public sector.

Nathalie Murphy is the immediate Executive Director of this not-for-profit organization, which depends solely on the goodwill of Dominicans, corporate citizens, government, and external donor agencies.

While appreciative of the Dollar Day contributions, Murphy says things remain financially challenging for the Association.

"We must emphasize that operating expenses are challenging," Murphy stated. "We were closed for some time due to COVID. Also, we were waiting for the expansion of our facility, and we had big plans to launch it in a big way by hiring new staff."

The DAPD also committed to raising its funds and planned to use its multi-purpose facility, completed and opened in 2022, to help generate income.

"We wanted to ensure we have enough funds available to meet our heavy expenses, but it has been very, very, very difficult," Murphy lamented.

Unfortunately, things did not work out quite as planned with the growing number of employees at the institution.

"Right now, we have only two staff members, and it has been very difficult to find funds to meet the monthly remuneration. Before COVID, we had five staff members, which has been reduced to two," she said.

Murphy pointed out that since the institution restarted its operations after the pandemic, which left Dominica in a state of limbo for almost two years, there were noticeable changes and hardships experienced by the Association.

"It has not been what we expected since we opened our doors in terms of mobilizing resources to undertake activities we had anticipated," Murphy said.

This has taken a toll on the organization. Still, its management team continues to press on and admits that this has always been the situation with the DAPD.

This is also why the Association has chosen the theme "40 years of Obstacles Barriers and Other Challenges Yet Still Standing" to commemorate its fortieth anniversary, which will be celebrated on 26th October.

The DAPD has dubbed this their ruby jubilee, which will be filled with events and activities to raise funds for and awareness of the Association.

"Activities will be of an educational and social nature with continued advocacy of paramount importance," explained DAPD President Irma Raymond-Joseph.

"The events include an inspirational concert, wheel-a-walk-a-thon, dinner in the dark, and a sports day. In addition, the educational activities comprise media discussions, school presentations, visual awareness and disability enlightenment week, symposiums, and an award and recognition ceremony," Raymond-Joseph said.

The first event, the inspirational concert, was held on 15th April.

The DAPD solicits help from individuals and institutions to support these events while fully aware that it will be fairly challenging because other organizations are also celebrating milestone anniversaries.

"In a society where Civil Service Organizations do not survive very long, the doubt by many of DAPD's longevity would have been justified," Raymond-Joseph stated. "Our overall goal is to foster their (people with disabilities) full and active participation in social life and national development. Also to protect their human rights. The DAPD has certainly survived the test of time."