UnikLearn is a training and internship programme for differently-abled youth with the aim to empower them towards independent living by enhancing their social skills and personal interactions. To sustain the project which requires professional therapists, UnikLearn will cost trainees $800 a month. The training component of the programme will be conducted four times a week, in three-hour sessions at Spark Lifeskill’s centre in Kg. Jangsak, with an emphasis on improving interpersonal and situational skills.
Several companies have supported UnikLearn by giving the differently-abled youth opportunities to be one of their interns; one of the companies is Noice. We had a small talk with the Creative Director of Noice in order to know more about the internships that take place in their cafe. Gladly, the Creative Director with his bright smile talked about his experience in training one of the interns that now have become one of their full-time staff members.
Firdaus Omar, the Creative Director of Noice, came up with two reasons as to why he wanted to collaborate with UnikLearn. From a business perspective, he is always interested in people who want to work and is equally as interested in tapping into a potential human resource. He noticed that the interns from UnikLearn had working experience, seeing the opportunity to employ keen interns who really wanted to operate as a part of the team. Coincidentally, one of the team members, Muhd Syahmi Bin Haji Juma’at who is now a full-time member of staff at Noice, loves to cook so his work blends both what he enjoys doing and his current job at Noice. So, employing interns from UnikLearn helps from a business perspective because employers have dedicated staff members who love their jobs and are willing to work together as a team.
From Firdaus Omar’s personal perspective, he would be more socially responsible in his business and be more open minded with members of the community in working with special needs individuals. It is often that the special needs individuals are judged unfairly based on their abilities and appearance. By collaborating with UnikLearn, he would like to give work opportunities to the special needs individuals as they are not only determined, but willing to work. In addition, this helps to get rid of the discrimination associated against special needs individuals regarding that they ‘do not have the capability to hold a full-time job.’ Firdaus Omar has stated that his partner has someone in his family who is a special needs individual. So, for them, the idea of seeing special needs individuals become more independent and become part of the community is most satisfying. This programme is not just different but is also unique in a way that engages regular members of the local community in contributing their support for special needs individuals who live in our community.
Regarding the work structure for the interns who are working with UnikLearn, Firdaus Omar has stated that the way an employee learns things is different. For example, Syahmi has been given morning shifts for a month where he does all the preparation through memorisation and he has to repeat the same tasks every day. For the next month, Syahmi’s schedule will be changed so Firdaus Omar can monitor his progress in doing his tasks.
Firdaus Omar had expressed himself about his experience in working with the interns of UnikLearn and it was heartwarming. Even though they are special needs individuals, they are also members of society who should be given access to work opportunities. Special needs individuals just need encouragement and support from members of the community. With the help of Firdaus Omar’s friend, McCoy, the founder of Spark Lifeskills, he had met every single intern from UnikLearn and it had been a great experience that made him learn something. It made him more patient and understanding because he had to think about ways to support Syahmi in his learning and development. Furthermore, as readers, we need to open our minds and heart to see that, even with the challenges they will face at work, they still want to work and live for themselves. In addition, they can rely more on themselves in preparation for a society that can be either cruel or kind.
After the small talk, the interviewers also took the opportunity to try some of the popular sandwiches at Noice; a ‘Sloppy Johan’. The taste of the dish was full of flavour, where all the spices were ‘alive’ and the juiciness of the meat could be tasted. The dish was also served with some fruit that had been diced and the taste of cinnamon was also there. For the pastry, the salted egg donut was very delicious. The bun was served piping hot and fresh. The filling melted in the mouth once the interviewers ate it. With the combination of the fresh, soft bun and hot melted filling, it was perfect. On top of that, Noice is a suitable place to spend time with family and friends while enjoying the aroma of the coffee that lingers under noses.
NUR ATHILAH BINTI ABU BAKAR
NURATIQAH BINTI AWANG ROSMAN
BAZILAH BINTI MUHAMMAD YUSSOF
NURUL NABILAH BINTI ISMAIL
NOR IZZAH IZZATI BINTI ZUSLIE
Class: U6 ‘O’ Level Block 5