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A New-found Hope: Setapak Manna Kitchen Project

A few parents of young adults (YA) with special needs staying in Setapak came to us in Pusat Sumber Komuniti CARE to ask for support and advice on what their children could do. There are few centres for people with special needs in Setapak and most families cannot afford to send their child to expensive training centres. These YAs are mainly autistic, or they may have Down’s Syndrome, are slow learners or are at different levels within the disability spectrum. For that reason, the Setapak Manna Kitchen Project was proposed as a platform for the YAs to learn independent living skills and also to prepare them for future employment. 

We started the first session of Setapak Manna Kitchen Project on 14 May 2022 with six YAs at the multi-purpose hall of a school for refugees at Hope Evangelical Free Church. The YAs learned how to handle kitchen utensils, practised cooking, baking, cleaning, and also learned how to work as a team. They have improved in their social skills, literacy, and numeracy. Initially some of them could not differentiate between sugar and salt, but now they can identify ingredients and weigh flour when prompted by the job coaches. The YAs also get to learn where to buy ingredients and how to choose good quality fruit. 

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From left: KY and T preparing jars to be filled with cookies,  J preparing pineapple golf-ball tarts to be baked and JL chopping pumpkins for pumpkin butter cake.

Every month, the YAs learn different recipes such as muffins, cookies, cake, fruit jam, curry puffs, and pineapple tarts. The products are then sold at cost to their friends and families as well as to churches in Setapak. Some parents contributed capital for ingredients and utensils. The sessions are facilitated by job coaches and volunteers. A few committed parents are also involved in assisting the YAs during their training. 

All are progressing at different levels of ability. By the grace of God, four out of six YAs will be sent out for employment exposure by July 2023. Pray with us that the churches and community in Setapak can come together to be a vessel of new-found hope for people with special needs and their families, be it to provide safe employment for the YAs or in supporting Setapak Manna Kitchen.

Written by Christina Ho, Community Organiser.

Taken from Malaysian CARE's quarterly newsletter - Care Contact, Mar 2023 Edition.