PETALING JAYA: Over the past year, youths from the Autism Cafe Project (ACP) have been putting together boxes of freshly cooked meals for frontliners as part of their “Support a Frontliner” campaign.
Along the way, ACP founder Mohd Adli Yahya learnt many families were struggling to put food on the table.
“If there were extra packets of food after helping the frontliners, we would donate them to people in need who passed by our cafe,” says Adli, who started the cafe in 2016 to engage his autistic son Luqman and provide him with a job.
“We struck up a conversation with them and realised how dire things were. There was one family where the husband was a delivery rider who had met with an accident, and they needed to feed their four children.”
Hearing these stories inspired him to come up with ACP’s “Buy and Donate Back” campaign. Malaysians are invited to sponsor meals for as low as RM5 a meal, contribute cooked food, or provide ingredients for the ACP youths to cook.
The team aims to prepare 200 packets of food daily for distribution.
“We started on July 9 by cooking nasi lemak, and out of the blue, people were offering to pass us raw ingredients such as chicken and cooked items like porridge to add to the mix,” Adli tells FMT.
“It really shows you how kind Malaysians are.”
He recalls that one contributor even gave durians. “We handed them over to one of the ACP families and they cooked up a delicious pengat durian. It is such an expensive fruit, so you could imagine the joy on their faces.”
ACP will concurrently continue their frontliner initiative until next month. So far, they have fed those from Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selayang Hospital, HUKM and Hospital Shah Alam.
“When the frontliners express their appreciation and send us their happy photos, it gives us a sense of fulfillment,” Adli says. “They are placing their lives on the line for us, so a smile on their faces and a full tummy is what we can do for them.”
Since its inception, ACP has provided many autistic youths with jobs as well as the opportunity to socialise in a nurturing environment. Its cafes, previously in Puchong and Shah Alam, were also safe spaces for parents of special-needs children.
“Feeding the frontliners and those in need has helped to keep us afloat,” Adli says, acknowledging that their crowdfunding efforts have allowed them to continue with initiatives not just for the needy but for the ACP team.
The youths, he explains, require a structured routine which, when disturbed, could lead to them being restless and upset.
“By engaging them to cook, it helps occupy their time, earn a living, as well as give back to society.
“We want to change the public’s perception that people with disabilities require constant help from the public, and that this time around, they are helping others.”
ACP’s present outlet is located at DaMen mall in Subang Jaya, but given the current climate, Adli realises the importance of keeping the young ones safe. So ACP runs on a skeleton crew operating remotely from their homes.
“With the help of their supportive family members, we provide them with a routine and sense of purpose by cooking different dishes, which will then be sent to the cafe to be distributed,” Adli says.
A table will be set up at the cafe on Fridays from 12pm to 2pm, and those who are hungry are welcome to help themselves to food. Any leftovers will be donated to others in need.
Those who wish to help ACP can contribute directly to A Autism Project Enterprise, CIMB account number 8603 498 598.
Autism Cafe Project
LG-12, DaMen Mall
USJ 1, 47600 Subang Jaya
CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST DATA ON THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN MALAYSIA