Panzie Malcolm’s Success Process: Advocating for the Disabled Community For Over 21 Years
After getting pregnant at 22, Panzie Malcolm had no choice but to start seeking job opportunities to provide for her firstborn. A few years later, she had another child to care for. As a single mother, things weren’t the easiest for her. Her passion for food preparation coupled with her responsibilities as a mother led her to seek jobs at multiple food establishments. Panzie started by working at Cake World in May Pen, a free zone in Denbigh, a pastry shop, and as head chef at Cross Primary and Junior High School. She even worked at a real estate agency as an office attendant in her early days.
Life started to turn around for Panzie when she committed to achieve something meaningful. To ascertain formal training, she went to HEART, where she was awarded a level one certificate in Food Preparation. She took a step further and went to the University of Technology, Ja (UTech), where she copped two certificates: one in Catering and the other in Baking.
In 2001 the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD) was seeking an instructor for Woodside Bakery and Panzie was selected because of her outstanding performance while at HEART. She has worked at the bakery for 21 years as a supervisor and workshop instructor.
The facility was opened for business in 1983. In its inception, the space was used as a training centre for sewing and food preparation. To provide jobs for the disabled community, the bakery was added. Ginger bulla, jackass corn, grater cake, peanut drops, and gizzada are some items they distribute to supermarkets, hardware, and variety stores in May Pen.
Panzie expressed that it brings her joy while she works with individuals from the disabled community. She shared a story of her student, Rohan Brown, who is now a part-time employee who also started his business. Panzie mentioned that despite his disabilities, he has made great strides.
Currently, the staff at Woodside is faced with many challenges.
Inadequate security is an urgent matter that needs attention. Over the past few years, there have been approximately three break-ins where most of the machinery was stolen. Panzie explained that the property is not properly secured, hence it is easy for thieves to break in. 2013 was the last incident where the training section became dormant. The bakery is now the only area in operation.
Transportation is another issue. Panzie explained that when the goods are to be distributed, it is sometimes difficult due to insufficient travel funds. Another challenge is the lack of equipment. Most of the machinery at the facility was sponsored by JAMALCO years ago. There is a need for office equipment such as a cellphone, printer, and a fax machine. She mentioned that the top priority is to get a rotating oven because the one they have currently doesn’t have a timer. The bakery is also in dire need of a refrigerator. They lost their standing refrigerator during one of the theft incidents. They are currently using a deep freeze to store items.
Amidst the challenges, Panzie works assiduously to get the factory to a suitable standard to provide a safe place for persons living with disabilities. She is also concerned about the continuation of the bakery since she will be retiring soon.
Ashagaye is a Media Practitioner, who is competent in writing, content creation, and marketing. Check out her Instagram here.
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