SHAMILAH NAMATOVU

customer service Head

Uganda, SSA

Poverty

A & A INITIATIVE

Main aim of the charity

The main aim of my charitable cause is to train hearing impaired persons in cold kitchen catering and customer care skills in an environment that is adapted and responsive to their impairment, to enable them find gainful employment in the catering sector and earn a living; further, to help them train together so that they find support from each other, both during their training and after.

How the employee got involved and why

About 10 years ago (2012), I was asked by a friend, who runs a small corporate catering business for off-site catering services (prepare, deliver and serve corporate meals) to visit and thereafter to contribute towards school fees and scholastic materials for a hearing-impaired pupil at Ntinda School for the Deaf, a Primary School in Kampala, and thereafter at Wakiso School for the Deaf (a Secondary School). My friend has been involved with support to hearing impaired persons for much of her adult life, resulting from raising a hearing impaired person in her extended family. More than 50% of her staff are hearing impaired. After the pupil I came on board to look after competed Senior Four (Ordinary Level in Uganda), we could not obtain a placement for him in Senior Five (Advanced Level) because: 1) He had received unsatisfactory grades, 2) There are not many technical schools where hearing impaired persons can pursue a technical skills based education and 3) Re-sitting Senior Four wouldn't guarantee a massive improvement in his grades, and even if it did, there are few Advanced Level schools with the required support system for hearing impaired persons at this level, to enable them compete on a near level playing field with their non-impaired peers, which is why our student didn’t do well in his Senior Four exams in the first place. After discussing with my friend and teachers dealing with special needs children’s education, I was advised to obtain an industrial placement for him at a catering school, since he liked cooking and wanted to be a chef. Unfortunately, the catering schools in the country are entirely privately run and do not have the capability to teach hearing impaired persons. My friend was already working with hearing impaired persons at her corporate restaurant (for off-site catering services) by assigning them duties that didn't put them in danger of fire and other hazards, including working away from fire places, working in storage, handling and serving food. At The Kitchen, hearing impaired persons are trained in cold kitchen skills (working with fruits and vegetables, salads, drinks, etc.) for a period of over three to six months. Many have gone on to find employment in other restaurants, while others have gone for further training outside the country. Others have started their own businesses. Currently, 13 trainees are in session, who were recruited from Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono Schools for the Deaf. One is from Rwanda. Naturally, my pupil/student joined The Kitchen where he did very well, and is now an accomplished caterer, and also volunteers at a hearing impaired person’s organization as a Guardian of young impaired persons.

What work does the employee do for charity

On my weekends, days off, after work hours, and while on leave, I volunteer with The Kitchen, a catering service in Kololo, Kampala which runs a project to train and support hearing impaired young persons in catering and customer care skills. I am involved in training sessions and also working alongside them while on offsite catering assignments to help them communicate better with clients and dinners. I also organize and bring on board chefs from other restaurants and catering services to give them training in some catering skills not available at the Kitchen.

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