Nepal restaurant serves up opportunity for deaf

Thu Mar 8, 2012 6:57am EST
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - As the diners enter, Ram Babu Kafle strolls over with a notebook and ballpoint pen and stands beside their table at the Bakery café in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.

He touches his ear and mouth and raises his fingers, signaling the customers to place their orders using sign language because he can neither speak nor hear.

This job and those of waiters at the restaurant's other branches are a rare job opportunity for the deaf in Nepal, providing an income and independence not only for them but for the rest of their family as well.

"I just wanted to prove that deaf people are equally talented like others, and they have already demonstrated that," said Shyam Kakshhapati, who owns the restaurant chain and has employed deaf people for over a decade.

"It is now up to the government to come up with incentives for hiring deaf people and treating them as honored members of society."

More than 60 deaf waiters, ten of them women, work in seven outlets of the Bakery cafe across Kathmandu, serving pizzas, juicy momo dumplings and burgers.

Restaurant authorities provide free training, give them free meals on duty as well as paying for uniforms, medical expenses and housing on top of their starting monthly salary of $150, a modest income in a country where one quarter of its 26.6 million people live on a daily income of less than $1.25.

Some shopping malls are also following suit and have employed disabled people in their stores.   Continued...