Feature: Seed cafe brews dreams of blind twins

(Xinhua) 16:01, August 08, 2022

SHANGHAI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- While Shanghai, in east China, is experiencing one of the hottest summers on record, a cup of free drink offered by a cafe in the Pudong New Area refreshes passersby with a soothing aroma.

The cafe, in the shape of a fallen acorn, brews the dream of twin brothers Yin Tianbao and Yin Tianyou.

The two were born blind due to retinopathy caused by premature oxygen inhalation. Yet blindness has never hindered their efforts to explore and enjoy life.

They are skilled skateboarders and marathon runners, and are fond of playing football. Their latest effort to challenge their limit, yet, is running a cafe.

They both agreed that latte art is the most challenging part.

"The milk foam is so light that it's hard for me to judge whether the coffee is almost full by the sound. What I can do is to try by feeling slowly," said Tianbao, the elder brother.

Tianbao began learning coffee-making in late 2021. Soon Tianyou joined in.

"Sometimes I was not in the mood and kept failing, which frustrated me so much. I would pause for a while, and then keep practicing," recalled Tianbao about the training.

There are more challenges as their sense of space and balance is impaired due to loss of vision. They must be very familiar with the location of every utensil. "I accidentally put my fingers into the coffee when covering the lid, and often spilled the coffee when serving," said Tianbao.

The cafe, therefore, has been specially designed to meet their needs, with different materials representing different work areas. For example, wood is used at the cash register and steel in the cleaning zone.

The coffee machine has also undergone specific modification, with the buttons of different shapes corresponding to different operations -- if you push the square button, you get an espresso, and the triangular button serves a cup of Americano.

"The day finally came. We tried to make the impossible possible. It's a fresh start and seed cafe is under trial operation!" On July 16, Tianyou shared the news on his Wechat, which soon received many likes and encouraging comments.

After the trial operation, the twin brothers will run the cafe independently.

"From overcoming physical barriers to becoming baristas, running a coffee shop, and living on our own, all our efforts were made to live as an ordinary person," said Tianyou.

His words partly reflect how people with disabilities yearn for more opportunities to gain personal fulfillment.

According to a three-year plan issued by the State Council in April, by the end of 2021, more than 8 million disabled persons of working age had no jobs in China. Among those employed but visually impaired, most people could only work as masseurs or masseuses.

"People with disabilities need dignity. Sympathy, though beautiful, cannot give them a sense of dignity," said Wang Tian, founder of the Bear Paw Cafe, which also hires hearing-impaired baristas. "The only thing we can do is to help the disabled realize self-worth and integrate into society," Wang added.

China has hence, in recent years, stepped up efforts to create more chances for the disabled.

Official data shows that from 2016 to 2020, more than 1.8 million disabled people were newly employed in China. And 1 million new jobs will be created for persons with disabilities between 2022 and 2024, according to the State Council plan. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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