Thursday, May 12, 2011

Project Dignity


Not so good news, the government agency does not see the need for a hawker training centre and will be difficult to support. I will have to think of another way to get the training center approved. We have people interested to come to come for hawker training but only if there is a subsidy from the government agency.

Batch 1 recruitment starts with an newspaper article and over 300 telephone enquiries. In the first batch with have a wide spectrum of students with various disabilities and challenges - single mother, blind, long term unemployed, ex-prisoner, elderly, polio et al. All in the adult group

For batch 2 we decided to work with children with disabilities.

I made a visit to Movement of the Intellectually Disabled (MIND) school and interviewed the students. Selected two students from MINDs with learning disability. The interview was not so much the talking or question and answers but more to see them working and performing tasks. The first student KH is the head prefect and he was tasked to moved some speakers to the main hall. The second student QA was tasked to collect some keys from one person to another. There was another two kids I met but not so appropriate for Dignity Kitchen at the moment. I was looking for Social skills, able to Articulate and Mobility in action, we term it as SAM approach.

I met with QA's mother in the interview. I have come to understand that to recruit children with disability, it is always wise to interview the mother first. Why? Firstly to explain to the parent but more importantly to get the support of the parents in working together for the program to succeed

Today KH report to class. Very quiet and reserve the first few hours. It has to do with the strange place. The mother was present and we have to sent her back. No distraction.

We did our normal orientation briefing. Then by lunch time he starts hugging me and rest of the trainers and later the elderly that comes for lunch. Initially it was not worrying but when he starts hugging complete strangers, I was concern. I called the vice principal for advise. One of his school teacher spoke to him Eventually we compromise that he is not allow to hug anyone other than the few trainers and if he wants to to hug he can lean his head on their shoulder. According to the teacher, KH hugs partly because of affection but also for insecurity in a strange place and meeting strangers, performing different tasks.

There was an invite to a networking function tonight. Surprising many people have heard of Dignity Kitchen and the story of the blind hawker. This is good. We do not have advertising budget and any publicity is good for us.

I finished all the Dignity Kitchen names cards in one evening. By the end of the day, I realise that to sell Dignity Kitchen one need to see it in operation. Not so easy to explain. people needs to watch the lunch treat,the disabled cooking and serving and participation of the sponsors.

QA starts work today and my fear was the way he speaks, very gangster like. Something he needs to change.

I estimate that in the last few months, the lost is averaging $1000 per day or there about. Am I worried, the answer is Yes. There is no turning back. It will depend on starting the education side of the business.With government agency approval as a training center and able to tap government training grant for the courses, I will be able to breakeven soon.

Till today I still have no business plan, just a cash flow projection but this is slow at the moment as I under estimate the volume of business when I design the chart of account for Dignity Kitchen. November and December 2010 accounts is till not updated. I know I am losing money but just not sure the exact losses......