Saturday, June 25, 2011

Project Dignity

Today we do a Chinese New Year lunch treat for the elderly. 80 elderly from a nearby home. This is the first time we do 80 elderly and all vegetarian. Challenging. But I always believe with challenges the process and the people get stretched and hence more learning. With every new challenging event, stretches the skill base and abilities of the team. I got a good team and they have come to accept that what we do is unique and the sky is the limit. They are setting the boundaries. With every challenges it boost their self confidence. Now we do 80 elderly the next is 120 elderly......

My students are shy and not communicative. Their disability inhibit them to open up and socialize. I am not just talking about physical disability alone. I have an idea on how I can get young and old to overcome their shyness and be more vocal - get them to sing in public. The idea comes from watching the students from S P Jain dancing and singing without any inhibition. How can they do it.... because they work in group. I guess if you know why you are doing something, you can overcome any self inhibition. First must train the blind boy to sing and entertain and if he can do it then he can get the rest to do it as well.

The sponsors are great, there was gifts and ang pow for the elderly.

Our teaching approach has to change to adapt to these intellectual challenge kids. The class room approach of lecture did not work. They just do not understand. I know they tried. They take notes and when I check their notes, it is all scribbling and marking. They are trying from some of the characters they noted. The cooking class is also too difficult to comprehend. We need to breakdown the teaching into smaller bite. The approach has also to be one to one and use practical and motivational approach. The carrot and stick method. The stick is their $30 allowance and the carrot is the praises. They do well we praise them and when they don't we take away one red ($10 note) piece of paper. Take away one piece get them angry, take away two pieces make them cry.

Case of the spoon amd fork - Using ordinary cutlery to teach addition and subtraction. One fork is 5 cents and a fork and spoon is 10 cents. For division and multiplication we use cutlery and a serving tray, for example there are forty person coming for lunch we use a tray and to divide and multiply to get the number of serving per table seating. Sound complicated.... it is not.
Case of the coin drawing - We teach bythe students drawing the coin on their exercise book as we believe that by drawing they can remember and it work. So if we write $1.50, the students will draw on the paper different combination of $1.50. Somehow it connect with the brain better by hand motion (drawing) than just looking at the coins and linking from the eyes (sight) to the brain. It works after two weeks and with student KH, he go home and practice.

Case of the finger counting - Go back to basic. Two hands is one dollar, one hand is 50 cents and one finger is 10 cents. Folded finger is 5 cents. Sound complicated..... it is the calculator. This method still need sound fine tuning, as we still need to link the wording on the coin to the fingers.

Today we have a no show of elderly coming to lunch treat. First time for us. Very disappointed. The home just called to said that they are not coming. Our lunch treat for the elderly program is still very new and some of the homes we approached are not so receptive to the idea of organizing their elderly to go out. An outing for the elderly required a lot of logistics like from getting the elderly ready, bringing the essential required for the outing (pampers, spare cloths, medication etc) to having enough volunteers to help out. Some of the home either they do not have the resources or cannot be bother to do it. Many of the elderly in homes across the country do not always get a chance to go out excursion and have a good time. Some of these homes only have outings once or twice a year. The better organised home have at least once a month. It has all to do with the organisation and the person in charge.Today's just has poor management.... Unfortunately for us, we have to pay for the bus and the wasted food.

It is about time that I need to consider giving a formal contract to my few trainers. At the moment they are like the students on $30 per six hours work. I need to have a team of trainers and these few person which are well trained to manage the stalls will need to go on salary basis. One of them has to go, reason is limited funding and do not have enough budget to take all five of them. Must talk to them on the terms and conditions. Start formal employment on 1st March.

Had a long conversation with a visitor today. He asked why Dignity Kitchen is not registered as a charity. As a charity he can donate and then can claim for the tax. This issue crossed my mind from the very beginning when I conceptualize this social enterprise in 2006. Project Dignity is not registered as a charity neither it is by guarantee or as a society. It is private limited company. The decision was a tough one. It was a long story.
My first consideration was to have Project Dignity formation as a public company limited by guarantee - has no share capital, no shareholder just members and has a very complex reporting format annually. I drop the idea because I was not able to convinced people to take up the membership. Even though it has tax exemption there are certain restrictions and also the issues of "profit" in term of definition and distribution. I also drop the idea of Project Dignity as a society because it is not a society structure. You need 10 people to register a society. I have also considered a co-operative formation. Finally a charity trust, this is an expensive option and the regulatory requirement will put me back by thousands of dollars before I can even think of setting up a social enterprise. By the way getting trustee (the people that look after your trust) for the charity trust are not free and they want to be paid.
Most people misunderstood that the definition of "charity status" and "Institution of Public Characters" (IPC) which is a non-profit organisation (charity trust, guarantee company or society) with a charity status. Even getting IPC is a completed process and process control needed will require resources that small start up social enterprise ill afford.
At the end of the day it has to do with TAX exemption.
For Project Dignity as a Private Limited company, I have plan for the future which if everything work out as planned will be a more interesting path which other social enterprise can emulate .......

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