Dialogue Includes All: Empowering the Disabled to Take the Lead
With an estimated one million disabled people in Malaysia, one of the many deserving movements fighting ignorance and insufficient resources is Dialogue Includes All (DIA). Previously known as Dialogue in the Dark, DIA is a social enterprise that envisions an inclusive and sympathetic society where barriers between the abled and disabled communities are ultimately non-existent. DIA’s founder Stevens Chan knows all too well the challenges people with disabilities (PWDs) face. Once an established entrepreneur in banking and insurance, Chan became blind in 2007 due to the eye disorder Glaucoma. But he soon turned his desperate situation into a focused sense of mission. Having advocated for blindness prevention, Chan later founded DIA to create public awareness and empathy for the disabled and empower them to achieve their full potential. “Our initiatives are driven by the desire to be part of the solution and to create impact and change,” Chan says. “Our work for the last nine years has involved providing education, jobs and micro-business skills and opportunities to the disabled.” One DIA enterprise affecting change is the Café Includes initiative. The outlet in Section 9 Petaling Jaya is operated by PWDs, including those with low vision, physical challenges, hearing impairments, and autism. “We’re essentially an academy and discovery centre, and when the lockdowns caused by the pandemic forced us to shut the café, we pivoted to setting up a cloud kitchen,” Chan explains. “Some of our team members were already trained in food preparation, so it was a natural progression for us.” The kitchen prepares pastries, coffee, tea and a small selection of mains. “It’s a simple set-up to allow the team to manage it with little supervision. The team has been taught to prepare food orders through GrabFood, and we would appreciate all the support we can get for the team’s efforts.” The kitchen is also busy with a food aid project collaboration with the Kenanga Group and Heineken Malaysia. The café’s team prepares between 600 and 700 food packs a month for distribution to refugee families, orphanages, and homes for the disabled and seniors in the Klang Valley. “The plight of the disabled and oppressed is a long-standing issue even before Covid-19. They have always been left behind in education, jobs or business opportunities. Unfortunately, the landscape is just more challenging because of fewer grants and lesser donations,” Chan explains. “As a social enterprise, our profit goes back to empowering this group. We are not asking people to donate but instead partner with us. If you think our café offers tasty and reasonably-priced food, please order from us. It helps us tremendously. “This is what we’re championing – for the people we represent to be independent.” To order from Café Includes via GrabFood, go to https://food.grab.com/my/en/restaurant/cafe-includes-seksyen-9-delivery/1-C2EHTE51MA2JLJ. For more information about Dialogue Includes All, visit https://www.dialogueincludes.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/dialogueincludes on Facebook.