PETALING JAYA: What started off as a training centre has now expanded into a full-fledged café, a store selling merchandise and a centre to learn Malaysian Sign Language (BIM).
Step into RC Deaf Missions Café for a delicious meal cooked by their deaf staff who have also been trained to run all aspects of the business.
Siblings Agnes and Mario Peter formed RC Deaf Missions Malaysia back in 2006 and worked out of their own homes, training and employing deaf staff.
“Our mission was to provide them with employment opportunities so that they are able to enhance their livelihood and improve their standard of living,” Agnes explained.
The idea to open a café however, came about since one of their senior staff, Bani, was already baking for their workshops.
So, she and her brother employed a team of deaf staff to assist Bani, and mapped out a plan to conduct sign language and baking workshops for the general public. By October 2018, the café was officially open.
Speaking about the early days of the café, Bani recalled, “When I first started, I was very nervous as I had no experience but as time went on and I gained experience I started to get the hang of it.”
She added that communicating with customers, especially taking their orders, was a challenge at first and involved a lot of pointing at the menu and writing things down on paper.
She also said that when she first started baking, she would look up recipes online and practise till she perfected a dish. “It was challenging but I continued to try and now I hope to be able to help others just like me.”
However, 2021 was a tough year because of the pandemic. With numerous lockdowns, the ban on dining-in and multiple technical issues that cropped up, the café was forced to close three times.
“We are very lucky that we were able to overcome those hurdles and had enough to cover the cost of the technical issues, rent and pay our staff,” Agnes told FMT, adding that she worried no end about how the business could stay afloat.
“We invest in our staff, training them with skills such as cooking, baking, coffee-making, latte art, communication with customers, product design, sewing and sales.”
Currently, they have nine employees, two of whom are interpreters. The staff run the café themselves.
The café offers delicious meals from hearty sandwiches like the chicken cranberry walnut sandwich and double fish and chips sandwich to flavourful Asian meals like curry laksa and sambal cashew nut rice.
They even offer a selection of vegetarian dishes for non-meat customers.
Wondering what to eat? The RCDM Jackpot Rice is their signature dish and one of their bestsellers.
Made with turmeric rice and spices, this dish is served with fried chicken, anchovies, cassava chips and a serving of vegetarian curry and sambal. There’s a vegetarian option as well with mushroom, pumpkin and tofu to replace the chicken and anchovies.
No meal is quite complete without dessert so dig into their Nutella and banana pancakes – these are not to be missed. Incidentally all their baked goods are made fresh by the staff.
Besides cooking and baking, the staff also sew items for sale at the café itself.
“They stitch many things no matter the size such as scrunchies, purses, tissue box covers, pillowcases and many more,” she said, adding that some of the hand-stitched items on sale are priced as low as RM5.
“Before the pandemic, we held many workshops on sewing and hope that this year we will be able to hold those workshops again,” Agnes said.
Despite the numerous setbacks last year, Agnes is hopeful that 2022 will be a better year. “Aside from conducting lessons and workshops again, we hope that business will pick up and get back to how it used to be.”
How can you help make a difference? Head over to RC Deaf Missions Café to enjoy a delicious meal while also supporting the deaf community.
RC Deaf Missions Café
Taman Bukit Emas
47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
9am–5pm (Monday to Saturday)
Closed on Sunday