All they wanted was to help their special needs child become more independent.
Who knew that this simple desire would lead to the opening of a special needs school and a Western food cafe?
Founded by Faraliza Zainal and Ali Dawood, My Inspiring Journey Special Education Hub (MIJ) was opened in 2011 to help their son, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Ali.
via Ashraf's Cafe's Facebook page
Ashraf, 18, is diagnosed with autism and had daily meltdowns.
One-stop centre providing help to special needs individuals
MIJ is a school for students with special needs namely autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, dyslexia and global developmental delay (GDD).
It is a one-stop centre that provides school readiness, student care for youth as well as intervention programmes for individuals with special needs ranging from age four to 30 years old.
Peaked interests in F&B industry opened Ashraf's Cafe
Prior to enrolling into MIJ, some of the students have had experience in the food and beverage (F&B) industry in their previous special education schools.
Others, on the other hand, are inclined towards customer service and love meeting people and social interaction.
However, both groups of trainees either didn't manage to gain employment upon graduation, were employed for a short-term period, or weren't given many opportunities.
These factors were the reasons why MIJ set up Ashraf's Cafe.
The cafe aims to provide real-life work experience and a safe environment for the trainees to develop their skills.
Launched on July 1, the cafe currently has nine full-time staff and five special needs trainees specialising in customer service, food preparation and table waiting.
Hawaiian pizza bread and more for under S$10
The cafe located right below MIJ currently offers Western-fusion dishes and desserts and are affordably priced at below S$10.
Here's a look at some of their offerings:
Sambal tumis sardine with baguette (S$6)
Hawaiian pizza bread (S$6)
Butter garlic rice with chicken in Marrakech sauce (S$7)
Lava cakes available in the following flavours: Chocolate Obsession, Red Velvet Delight, Matchalicious (S$6 each)
Aims to raise S$30,000 for kitchen tools and equipment
Prior to the opening of the cafe, a crowdfunding exercise was started to raise S$30,000.
The amount donated will go towards the Work Readiness Adult Program (WRAP), the same program where the trainees of Ashraf's Cafe are enrolled in, as well as for the purchase of kitchen tools and equipment to keep the cafe up and running.
Where to go: 168 Changi Rd, Fragrance Building #01-01/02
When to go: 8am to 9pm daily
Top image via Ashraf's Cafe's Facebook page