KUALA LUMPUR: Stroke survivor Raja Iskandar Raja Mansur used to think he was the unluckiest person in the world until he met a blind masseur, who helped nurse him back to health.
This encounter also led him to see the daily struggles of the blind and commit to running a café as a means to raise funds for those less fortunate than himself.
Speaking to FMT recently, Raja Iskandar related his story.
“In my previous job as a landscape designer, I often worked late into the night, not realising the toll it took on my health,” he said, adding that he suffered a stroke in 2014. He was only 47 years old.
He spent two weeks in the ICU and another few months in rehabilitation before the depression set in.
“I started walking in the morning to get my blood circulation going, which I recommend for stroke survivors because other than the exercise, you also get plenty of fresh air and sunshine,” he said.
It was during his recovery that he sought the services of a blind masseur, whom he eventually developed a friendship with.
In a bid to help the massage centre attract more customers, he painted a mural for them, his first outreach initiative.
“The doctors can prescribe medicine to heal my body, but through these social outreaches I found the best medicine for my soul,” he said.
Wishing to help the blind in any way he could, he held painting classes for visually impaired children, and even arranged visits for their families to Zoo Negara and other tourist spots.
“Many of the kids aren’t born blind, but lose their eyesight later in life. Seeing them describe the animals in the zoo to their blind parents while holding their hand is really something special.
He said many of these kids are forced to grow up fast, helping out at home because they can see. “So, I wanted to let them actually be kids and draw to express themselves, or take them on trips to allow them to have as many experiences as they can,” he said.
Raja Iskandar said he opened Kafe Basikal Tua for two reasons: to provide a space for kids to work on their art, and as a means to raise funds for their activities through the café’s profits.
During a recent visit by FMT to the café, he explained that the food served there was outsourced to those in the disabled community, who cooked the food at home and delivered it to the café.
The menu items rotate depending on the cooks’ availability, but some mainstays include Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Ganja, Nasi Arab and some vegetarian options. The package includes a three-course meal with appetiser and dessert, if you’re wondering!
The food is served in tiffin carriers to fit the picnic-theme, so guests are also encouraged to dress accordingly in white or batik printed outfits with sunhats.
As of now, the café operates solely on a ‘reservation’ basis and can accommodate up to three bookings a week, with a minimum of six guests each time.
“I’m looking for volunteers right now to help me out, preferably culinary school students who want the experience and are interested in direct social work,” he added.
Follow Kafe Basikal Tua on Instagram.
Kafe Basikal Tua
3333, Jalan Palimbayan Indah
Kampung Palimbayan Indah
60000 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: 011-61708502 (WhatsApp only)