Sunday, January 2, 2011

Project Dignity

Week Beginning 7th Nov

Create a good environment, give the right tools and treat people with respect, I believe people even socially and physically challenged will do well.

After the first month, I can see the changes in the working environment. There are good sign and there are bad ones.

The good sign is ownership. Give the people the owner to manage the stall the way they see first. Let them create the stall identity. With ownership comes motivation. I went out to buy some plants from Ikea and decorate the stalls. For stall One, flowers and figurine decoration for the Nasi Lemak stall starts appearing. Ownership starts with installing physical entities but motivation comes with verbal recognition. I praise and encourage the students a lot. Some of them are even working longer hours

The bad sign is the disagreement between the abled and disabled. The concept of having abled to work with the disabled is the foundation of Dignity Kitchen and as such matching them and getting them to work is critical and paramount to the success of the school. I match the Mother (abled) with the blind son. I matched the polio with the elderly (abled) and I matched the hearing impaired with the ex-prisoner (abled). The issue is raised with the remuneration they get. If the abled who work at a faster pace and gets the same money, is it fair the disabled who is slow and at time clumsy gets the same amount of money. Quarrels ensued. Initially I ignored it. Furthermore these disabled and disadvantaged do come with their own personal problems. Eventually things got very bad and I have to sit them down and explain the consequences of their dispute.......

On 11 Nov, the government agency recommended a mentally challenged young man to the school today and he is younger than I thought. He has cancer at a young age and has been operated several time. he jovial and has very good attitude, only problem is due to his many operations, his memory retention is low and that is a major problem. What can he do behind a hawker stall. Let him do something that is simple and repetitive and keep training him to do the same thing over and over again. I have my operation manager to thank for helping the mentally challenged boy. every morning for the first week, he put him to the same task of setting up the dessert stall and simplifying the process every day till the mentally challenged boy can do with instructions. When the setting up of the stall and closing the stall routine is settled by my operation manager, my task for the following weeks is to train him to serve the customers. It is done is six word posted behind him - SMILE, GLOVE, SCOOP, CLEAN, SERVE, SMILE. Repeated the same task over and over again and guess what he passed his basic food hygiene based on this six words.....

On 12/11 the first stall hits $100.

Today 15/11, we have full training force. Total 11 trainees - the ex-prisoner, the old man, the polio man, two deaf men, two blind, single mother, the graduate, one machinist and one mentally challenged