Today 16th August 2010 (Chinese Calender is 7th day of the 7th month)
Project Dignity PD is registered as an entity.
PD was conceived 4 years ago wlth the idea of giving back to society.
PD has to be a platform where varlous races, religion, creed; rich or poor can come together. It has be be a platform that everyone can relate to - the food court.
One don't just wake up and want to do social work. I have been going social work since I came back to Singapore in 1994. Firstly with senlor citizen at Spottiswoode Park Resident Committee & then with Changi Prison.
The impetus to PD birth has to do with an altuistic boy (as the caregiver/parent grow older the child as grow older. The child must be able to care for himself),The ex prisoners of A5 Changi prison (Do they really have a second chance?) & the queue at South East CDC of family queuing for state help.
Why the four years to startup? PD has four key considerations in starting up.
1. Issue of Rental.
PD has to find a place where the initial investment and the running cost cannot go too much to rental expense. Looking for a site was priority. Many sites were evaluated and many disappointments like
- the church in Paya Lebar,
- the halfway house cafe in Geylang,
- Bukit Merah coffee shop
- factory canteen in Ubi
- failed tender of ex Queenstown police station
- Yeo's building in Telok Blangah
- Kallang warehouse conversion
The current site was purely incidental. Just having coffee with my accountant at the food court when he suggest taking over the 4 empty stalls and there is a glass room which is ideal for a classroom, the rest is history.
2. Issue of trainers.
Where do I start to look for trainers who can talk local dialects,work with hawkers and can cook good hawker food. I do not look for certified trainers; just someone with the passion to teach hawkers. The solution comes from a combining an educated trainers combine with someone with hawker experience.
3 Issue of students.
Having worked with prisoners and handicapped people, I realised that their self confidence and self esteem is low. I am not suggesting that all of such cases is of this nature, but a large majority especially ex prisoners. In prison I guess to get compliance you have to remove the self esteem. Recruiting student will require some selling.
4. Issue of Perception.
I guess this is the hardest to resolve. Buyer of my hawker food will have certain inhibition when they buy from someone with disability. Only solution is through education and that will cost money. About 40% of my startup funding is in education of the general public to accept the notion of buying food prepared and sold by disabled.