Bake it happen:
Shanghai Young Bakers helps Braille Without Borders develop its Baking school for the Blind
SHANGHAI, China. September 23, 2012 – Shanghai Young Bakers (www.shanghaiyoungbakers.com), a charity program that provides a fully-sponsored French bakery training to disadvantaged Chinese youth went on a 10-days trip to Shigatse, Tibet, where a team of teachers and students worked with Braille Without Borders (BWB) to expand their Bakery School for the Blind.
Similarly to SYB, BWB aims at alleviating poverty and empowering marginalized youth through vocational skills training. BWB’sBakerySchoolfor the Blind was founded in 2010 with the aim to train blind and partially sighted students. It also serves to provide additional revenue to the organization. However, BWB baking school was lacking equipment and qualified trainers, which is why they reached out to SYB to develop their program.
To that aim, SYB welcomed Basang Lamu, one of BWB’s sighted staff, as part of their 2011-2012 class. In addition to bakery classes at SYB, she did an internship at Grand Mercure Hongqiao. Another BWB member, Tse Drolkar, spent two months in SYB so that she could improve her bakery and teaching skills and help Basang Lamu. This “train-the-trainer” program was a first for SYB, which hopes to help more organizations in the future.
SYB spent 10 days in Shigatse and Lhasa, from July 20 – 31, 2012, to help develop and further expand BWB bakery program. Three teachers, two past SYB graduates from the class of 2009 and 2011, the top six students from the 2012 graduating class, as well as SYB’s program manager and interns were part of the journey. The trip, sponsored by Shanghai Business International Travel as well as Huaqiao Foundation, included technical assessment and counseling, bakery workshops, specialized training for BWB staff, and experience sharing.
When talking about the objectives of this cooperation, Cecile Cavoizy, the program manager of Shanghai Young Bakers, said:” First, we wanted to keep helping BWB complete its baking program. Basang Lamu and Tse Drolkar are still quite young, they may not have enough experience to plan the programme very well, so we decided to go with them to Tibet the carry on its first step. We invited some graduate students and our three teachers to join us so that they could be inspired what BWB is doing in Tibet, and help them with their own strength. One year ago, they still need others’ help, but now they can help others and give back to society. “
The team arrived in Lhasa on July 24th and was welcomed warmly by the teachers and students of BWB School. The school administrators, Nyima and Gyentsen, showed everyone around. Visually impaired kids learn Chinese, English and Tibetan here, so that they can then enter a normal school. During the visit, Gyentsen showed us how to use a computer, a cellphone as well as a typewriter in Braille, which was very impressive. Zhao Xueyan, one of SYB graduate students said: “What I learn from them is that I should never lose hope in life.”
In Shigatse, led by the manager, Adron, SYB students visited BWB vocational training school for the blind. The school is actually a beautiful and quiet farm where the blind students study and live. In addition to their bakery center, the farm includes a green house, pasture, and a cheese factory. The students have the opportunity to develop various skills, such as playing music, massage and knitting. Much like SYB, the goal of BWB is for these underprivileged students to acquire skills that they can use upon graduation.
Next to the school is Kiki Kindergarten, founded in 2011. Kyila, the kindergarten principal, told us that she was among the first group of students in BWB, and decided to keep working in the kindergarten after graduation. Being blind herself, she knows from her own experience how difficult life can be for blind kids if they are not taken care of properly. Running a kindergarten dedicated to visually impaired children was for her a dream that came true, and blind kids now live a happy childhood in KiKi kindergarten. Zhang Shuai, one of SYB students, said: “They can’t see, but they have beautiful minds, we should face life positively just like they do.” “The work of BWB gives hope to these kids and helps them integrate into society” said the Program Manager of SYB, Cecile Cavoizy.
So that to make the most of their time in Tibet, SYB teachers had started preparing the list of equipments needed as well as dozens of recipes way before their departure. After having researched the local bakery market on July 25th, the teachers, Basang Lamu and Tse Drolkar bought the necessary equipments and refurbished the baking center so tat to facilitate its use by visually challenged students. Wang Li, one of SYB baking teacher, explained: “We put a table in the middle to divide the kitchen into two parts, one is for the oven, and the other is for operation. Then the students with better visual ability can work in the oven space and others can work in the operation space, which is better for safety reasons.”
Baking classes started on the evening of July 28th. Teacher Xiao Jinjin was in charge of the pastry classes and Teacher Zhang Zhenghai of bakery classes. Every BWB student was paired with a SYB instructor. In order to adapt to the local taste, the teachers used Tibetan butter instead of the normal one. Although many students could not speak mandarin well, the translation of Basang Lamu and Tse Drolkar eased any communication difficulties. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the class finished two hours earlier than expected and turned out to be a big success. 12 different kinds of bread were made; including classical French bread, Chinese pastry and Italian pizza. Everyone enjoyed their work. “They do have some problem with visual ability, but their performance really surprised us!” said Wang Li. The fourth graduation of SYB, Wang Huiping said: ”They are so clever and learn very fast!” Teacher Zhang Zhenghai said the students were very serious in the class and tried their best to learn, which really touched him.
Adron said excitedly: “Our kitchen had been left unused for many years. Now here you come and we can finally make good bread! Yesterday I was so excited that I didn’t sleep all night! Thank you, SYB, I hope we can continue our cooperation.” Teacher Zhang Zhenghai said: ”We came here to teach them, but it is actually them who taught me a lesson, I learnt so much from their optimism, persistence and patience.!”
“Given that we share similar ideals, the success of BWB’s Bakery School for the Blind is equally important to us as it is to them. If BWB were able to build a social enterprise that generates enough revenue to sustain a non-profit bakery school, it then sets a perfect example for SYB and other organizations that have the same intent in China.” said Cecile Cavoizy.
阿珍激动地说：“我们的面包房已经闲置很多年了，现在你们来了，我们终于可以好好做面包了，我昨晚高兴得都睡不着觉，谢谢海上青焙坊，希望我们能一直合作下去。” 海上青焙坊烘焙老师张政海说：“我们过来是给他们上课，但其实也给我上了一课，我从他们身上学到了他们的乐观和坚持，他们有耐心每天都把事情做得很好。” 海上青焙坊第四届毕业生周海州说：“我希望以后每年海上青焙坊都能有人来到西藏帮助他们！”
“考虑到我们有着同样的理想，盲文无国界组织盲人烘焙学校的成功对他们和对我们都同样重要，如果盲文无国界组织能够建立起一个能获得足够收入来支撑非营利性烘焙学校的社会企业，这将会给海上青焙坊和中国有着相同目标的其他组织树立一个完美的样本。” Cecile Cavoizy这样说道。