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May 30, 2003

Disabled group offers gesture of humanity to hospital

From: eTaiwan News, Taiwan - May 30, 2003

2003-05-30 / Taiwan News, Staff Reporter / By Tsai Ting-I

In a bid to solicit society's support for those medical professionals battling the SARS outbreak, the Taiwan News Bodo Arts Association For the Visually Impaired, yesterday donated 2,000 dumplings to the specially-designated SARS hospital, the Armed Forces Sung-Shan Hospital. This gesture was made one day after families of the Hoping Hospital's staffs complained over society's nonchalance during a press conference.

"SARS has caused a wide rift among people. SARS is scary, but human-beings are even scarier," said Chen Kuo-ming (???), chair of the TNBAAFVI (???????????).

Chen, who offered free massages to those rescuers during the 9-21 earthquake in 1999, explained their decision to donate dumplings, after concluding that free massages to these medical professionals wouldn't prove feasible.

The 2,000 dumplings came from the restaurant at the TNBAAFVI's "Building of Wild Thoughts about Color," which constitutes a restaurant, massage service center, and drama stage.

Chen, founder of the building, explained the choice of "color" in the building's name, hoping to encourage all blind individuals to keep their faith and enjoy life in a colorful city.

The Black and Deaf (blind) shrimp dumpling restaurant, which launched its business last September with assistance from the Taipei City government's Labor Affairs Bureau, is run by a person both blind and deaf, three blind people, and two deaf individuals.

The restaurant is Taiwan's first that vows to protect the working rights of blind employees.

"Operating a restaurant poses a challenge to blind people which is exactly why I decided to open this dumpling restaurant," Chen said. He pointed out that blind people had traditionally been limited to occupations such as the massage industry in Taiwan, regardless of what their real occupations were before they lost their visual abilities.

The 2,000 dumplings took the restaurant's staffs a few hours to make on Wednesday and yesterday, but the smooth cooperation needed to make the eatery work, took them months to figure out.

To prove blind people have the capability of running a restaurant, the TNBAAFVI began creating its own recipes starting last January, which entails sending its staff to professional cooking classes.

"We want to provide the most professional service to our customers, not earn their sympathies for the disabled," Chen said.

Furthermore, how to coordinate blind and deaf persons to work together was another issue for the restaurant.

"White means cabbage dumplings while green means leek dumplings," explained Chen Shu-ling (???), 26, who's had difficulty hearing ever since she was a baby.

Chen Shu-chen (???), secretary-general of the association, said that the disabled staffs have learned to figure out the easiest way to communicate with one another.

"I have to rely on some of them to pass messages for me sometimes," Chen said.

Liu Yu-fang (???), 50, the only staff to be both blind and deaf, said that she enjoys making dumplings, despite having accidentally burned herself several times. Liu, a former tailor who lost her visual ability after an unsuccessful operation, said that she encountered difficulties finding employment before she started working here.

Still, there are numerous of difficulties for Chen to overcome to smoothly run the building's business.

"Some customers would doubt to our professionals, questioning whether we cleaned our vegetables enough, despite our running the restaurant under strict procedures." Chen said.

Chen, the founder of the building, lost his visual ability in a car accident when he was 19-years-old.

Describing himself as a literary and art intellectual, he promotes performance art among disabled groups and puts out a publication every two-months with the latest information about his foundation and other performance groups.

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