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Jakarta Post

New cafe opens doors for the deaf

  • Sita W. Dewi

    The Jakarta Post

South Tangerang   /   Tue, May 5, 2015   /  07:44 am
New cafe opens doors for the deaf

Sign with me: A waitress interacts with a customer at the Fingertalk Cafe and Workshop in East Pamulang, South Tangerang, Banten province, on Sunday. The cafe encourages interaction between customers and its hearing impaired employees. JP/ Don

Pamulang resident Frisca Carolina Loho, 25, possesses skills in cooking, sewing, computer design, home repairs and Balinese traditional dancing. However, the woman, who previously lived in Denpasar, Bali, and Cimahi, West Java, said that finding a stable job was a challenge due to fierce competition.

'€œI have learned a variety of skills so I can take on different jobs. But there are a lot of people without disabilities who can also do such jobs,'€ she told The Jakarta Post via an interpreter at her new workplace, the Fingertalk Cafe and Workshop, on Jl. Pinang 37, East Pamulang, South Tangerang, Banten province.

She was able to secure a steady job after Singapore-based Dissa Syakina Ahdanisa, a 25-year-old social entrepreneur, and hearing impaired activist Pat Sulistiowati, 65, opened the cafe and recruited hearing impaired workers.

Frisca, who has an academic background in cooking and fashion, was among the few recruits with extensive skills, therefore she also plays a role in training the younger and less-experienced employees.

'€œI am happy because I can do the thing I love the most: cook,'€ she said, while showing pictures of her self-created menu.

'€œI can also teach sign language to other employees because a lot of them were raised in different regions that use different sign language. I hope all of us can achieve success in life,'€ she added.

Nurul, 20, among the rookies, shared Frisca'€™s optimism.

'€œThis is my first job ever. I am grateful for the opportunity and I wish to be independent, so I won'€™t be a burden to anyone,'€ she said, adding that she is also keen on learning about hairdressing, cooking and sewing.

The cafe, which officially opened its doors on Sunday, employs nine hearing impaired staffers. On the walls of the cafe are sign language posters and pictures that give customers the opportunity to learn simple gestures to communicate with the crew.

Dissa hoped the cafe could bring people closer.

'€œI became inspired when I came across a similar cafe in Nicaragua during a volunteer project when I was an undergraduate student. The owner was a hearing person who cared about the deaf community,'€ said Dissa, who also took a sign language course in Singapore.

With a dream to open a cafe with a similar concept, through her contacts she was introduced to Pat, who warmly welcomed her idea. Pat immediately contacted unemployed hearing impaired youngsters in the area and kicked off recruitment.

'€œThe process was not easy because a lot of them had low self-esteem. They were mostly worried that people would not accept them as they were. I really appreciate those who have the guts to start and try,'€ Dissa said.

Pat, a former chairwoman of the Indonesia Deaf People'€™s Welfare Movement (Gerkatin), said the deaf community had faced challenges from outside and inside the community when it came to self-empowerment.

'€œCommunication is definitely a problem. The deaf community uses different kinds of sign language because of geographical and cultural challenges. I predict there are about 3,000 different sign languages used across Indonesia,'€ Pat, through an interpreter, told the Post.

Pat also called on the government and public to raise awareness on the need to increase the number of interpreters for the deaf to address the challenge.

'€œI also encourage the government to publish an official dictionary on Indonesian sign language,'€ she said.

Dinuk Diansari, 47, a cafe patron, appreciated the founders'€™ initiative to open the cafe. '€œI am impressed and this is very inspiring,'€ she said.

The Fingertalk Cafe and Workshop is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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