A disability should not define the extent of contribution an individual can make in society, and there are an encouraging number of organisations striving to prove this point in Malaysia.
When asked what Malaysia could do better in helping the disabled community, Adli, the founder of Autism Café Project, says that change must first start with how we perceive Persons With Disabilities (PwD).
The PwD community should no longer be viewed as a burden to society, they just need to be given the opportunity to lead independent lives like everyone else. Employers must also start honouring the 1% quota stipulated by the government so that employment opportunities are readily available for PwD.
These 7 organisations have repeatedly shown that employment with PwD is meaningful, doable and beneficial for all. It is time that we do right for our PwD community, and help foster an inclusive work environment for all to flourish in.
#1: Autism Café Project
The Autism Café Project (ACP) is a cosy little café with a grand purpose – to provide employment opportunities for those on the autistic spectrum to enable them to live meaningful lives. Founded in 2016, ACP is largely managed by youths on the autistic spectrum. ACP’s menu covers a wide range of cuisines.
Wednesdays and Sundays, for example, are ACP’s ‘Middle Eastern and Italian’ days, where they will whip up delicacies from these two regions. On normal days, expect local delights such as nasi lemak, ondeh ondeh, lemonade, and curry puffs. And the menu just keeps expanding – ACP is now serving a variety of pies at very affordable prices.
Thinking of what to eat next? Maybe head over to ACP for a slice of pie and have a chat with the crew! Not only will you walk away with a full belly, but also with a newfound appreciation of our PwD community.
#2: Stand Pie Me
Stand Pie Me is empowering young adults with special needs, one pie at a time. With a firm belief that every young adult with special needs has skills and talents that can be developed, Stand Pie Me aims to empower these adults with the skills necessary for them to earn a living in the food production business.
Stand Pie Me is backed with a clear strategy to ensure business viability. They aim to engage the following groups – schools and homeschooling centres, cafes that do not have pies and quiches on their menu, and finally, caterers and party organisers. The profit gained would then be apportioned among employees.
Apart from reaching out to the groups mentioned above, Stand Pie Me is also running a ‘’Bless with a Pie’’ campaign to boost sales. This is a good option for those who wish to bless a needy home with pies and quiches.
#3: Lovely Disabled Home
The Lovely Disabled Home goes beyond the Food and Beverage business to create job opportunities for special needs adults. The Home organises activities under three main workgroups – Workshops, Recycle Center and Flea Markets. At the workshop, members pack socks, cutleries, craft boxes and assemble wristbands to be sold. Members also collect recyclables and pre-loved items to be resold. Profits from the two income streams are used to cover overhead costs.
Realising that 21% of disadvantaged individuals are homebound, Krayon.asia strives to provide an online platform for homebound artists to showcase and sell their products. Krayon operates on a ‘pay-it-forward’ model for success. Once an artist gets their products on Krayon’s platform, Krayon will actively engage the corporate sector through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes for support. With the promotion and selling of products covered by Krayon, artists can focus on creating and earning from home.
#5: Tender Hearts Café
Ask Sharon, founder of Tender Hearts Café, for a quote on what Tender Hearts is about, and the answer would be a loud and proud “We advocate for inclusion, acceptance and equality!”. Targeted at special needs youths aged 17 and above, Tender Hearts aim to provide a safe environment for equipping the youth with the necessary skills to be self-sufficient.
While the café remains closed for now, Tender Hearts is still taking online orders for their signature Christmas chocolate and walnut cookies (they have once fulfilled an order of 22,500 cookies!). Some other products that are on sale include curry puffs, various sandwiches and pies, and desserts.
#6: Bake With Dignity (BWD)
A social enterprise under Dignity & Services, Bake with Dignity (BWD) wants to teach those with learning disabilities to be comfortable in the kitchen so that they know how to feed themselves and live independently.
All BWD goods send a message: there is dignity in all work. From cookies to cakes and savoury meals, customers can be sure to get their money’s worth because BWD believes that there is dignity in producing products with the finest ingredients.
Each item on the menu has been curated with much thought and love. Bestsellers include oatmeal-currant drop cookies, salmon quiches, burnt cheesecake and roasted chicken with pumpkin. The next time you find yourself at Bandar Sunway, do swing by Leisure Commerce Square to have a meal, and as BWD promises, you will get your money’s worth.
#7: Dialogue Includes All
Dialogue Includes All is a social enterprise that aims to close the gap between the abled and the disabled community. They do this by equipping them with the skills required, advocating for them, and empowering them to build their own entrepreneurial careers.
Disabled individuals who have completed the training programme under Dialogue Includes All can start their own enterprises under the ‘Includes’ trademark, which provides them with the support they need to succeed.
One of the programmes – ‘Call Includes’, has been crowned champion DiGi’s Season 6 Challenge for Change Programme. Call Includes is a call centre service that is operated by disabled and visually impaired people, who have been trained to provide top-notch customer care, market research and appointment scheduling services.
Apart from Call Includes, other successful enterprises are Café Includes, Aromatherapy Includes, Coffee Includes, and Learning Includes. These ‘Includes’ activities will mostly be conducted at the House of Light, a residential space created for both the abled and disabled community to enjoy one another.
Written by Emily Wong, edited by Wiki Impact Team