环球时报 (Global Times)
May 19th 2011
23岁的张振海做梦也不曾想过有朝一日他能飞去法国留学。16岁时成了孤儿，付不起学费只得辍学，好不容易在一家玩具厂找到个收入微薄的工作，“当 时觉得自己像一部机器，熬不到出头之日，这辈子没什么指望了”。2009年的一天，“天大的好事”落在了他头上，一群法国人通过慈善机构找到了他，说可以 让他免费学做法式面包，毕业后在上海五星级酒店的面包房工作，问他有没有兴趣？“感觉像中了大奖，这是真的吗？”就这样，没吃过面包、没出过远门的张振海 从安徽老家来到了上海，穿着厨师服学做法式面包，和他一起的还有来自全国各地的20多名孤儿。后来，张振海学了法语，又和同学肖金金、王莉一起拿到了法国 签证，共赴欧洲最负盛名的欧里亚克烘焙大学留学。
让张振海们重拾人生希望的是一群生活在上海的法国人和他们创办的公益机构Shanghai young bakers（海上青烘焙坊）。2009年2月“海上青”正式启动至今，共培训了53名孩子。“我们通过智行基金会、马大夫之家和Half the Sky这３家公益机构牵线搭桥，愿意帮助的孩子基本上要满足这些条件：17岁到23岁之间，初中毕业、身体健康、没有犯罪记录。最重要的是，他们要喜欢烘 焙，有motivation（动力）。有个孩子到上海后，整天哭着说不喜欢做面包，我们只好把他送回去了。”“海上青”烘焙坊的项目经理马弘睿 （Thomas Meron）说。2010年，“海上青”被评为上海最具潜力的公益项目之一。
“授人以鱼不如授人以渔。‘海上青’烘焙坊既为社会献了一份爱心，也回应了中国烘焙市场面包技师短缺的现状。中国有不少贫困的孩子需要帮助，能改变他 们命运的不是钱，而是谋生的技能。我们两期的培训学员毕业后全都找到了工作。上海的烘焙行业，面包师傅很缺，蛋糕师傅又太多，几乎每个星期都有人打电话找 我推荐面包师，孩子们找工作绝对不是问题。”马弘睿是目前“海上青”唯一的全职员工，为了“海上青”，他毅然辞掉了在法国大企业的高薪工作。“有10名志 愿者，平时会来帮忙，但他们毕竟只能贡献部分时间，长期的公益机构还是需要全职人员的。”马弘睿微笑着说。
“海上青”为孩子们想得很细。“培训为期一年，分三部分，涵盖中国的西点面师课程和传统法式烘焙以及英语、语文、数学、计算机等中专课程。孩子们毕业 后，就能拿到中国认可的西点面师执业证书和中专学历文凭。培训很严格，除了实战测试，笔试有选择题、问答题，还得默写十几个菜谱。”马弘睿说，“如果有文 凭又有官方认可的职业技术证书，在职场上会更具竞争力。”同时，“海上青”也把国外流行的“边学边做”的职业培训模式带到了中国。“每个月两周在学校学烘 焙技术，另外两周在五星级酒店的面包房主厨指导下实习，每人配一名导师。”
想起第一次上课的情景，王莉忍不住笑了。“我们的法国面包师高骞（Thomas Kalkhoven）老师总是说，光有技术是不够的，只有用心地全情投入，才能做出美味的法国面包来。那天，他让我用面团捏一个最想做出的面包形状，我很 快捏了只小老鼠放进烤箱。拿出来一看，小老鼠膨胀成了一大团，就尾巴还能认出来，样子怪极了。”现在，王莉早就掌握了捏面、醒面、发酵等一套技术。在学习 中，孩子们还慢慢喜欢上了硬皮法式面包的滋味，“刚出炉的面包松软脆香, 嚼在嘴里有拉面一样的韧性，越嚼越香，生活也不再那样苦涩了。”
培训班的大多数孩子都是第一次来上海，“海上青”就安排了各种团队和社交活动，帮他们适应新环境。“我们带着他们这周去外滩，下周去锦江乐园。有一位 黄老师，特别温和有耐心，她会花很多时间照顾孩子们，像他们的妈妈一样。孩子们都没坐过地铁，老师和志愿者就手把手地领着买票、换线。不然，他们大概早就 晕了。”马弘睿说。
马弘睿说自己并不是“海上青”的始创人，“2008年，12个法国年轻人，有职业经理人，有艺术家，有家庭主妇，他们一心想做些公益事业，但做什么好 呢？谁最需要帮助？他们最先想到的就是‘孤儿’。几个月的市场调查后，他们发现西式糕点在上海越来越受欢迎，但是地道的法式长棍、羊角面包却很难找到。直 到现在，全中国也只有广州有一家专门法式面包培训机构。当时反复讨论后，锁定了‘法式面包’，让中国的贫困孩子学一门得以自立谋生的手艺。”如今，这12 个始创人都陆续离开了中国，但这份爱心事业却在延续。“让我高兴的是，原来志愿者是清一色的法国人，现在各个国家的都有了，本地年轻人最多。”
让公益事业持续下去是马弘睿的梦想。“很幸运，‘海上青’得到了家乐福国际基金会、法国酵母制造商乐斯福公司和Sweetpearl——享怡甜（罗盖 特公司的明星产品）的赞助，本地的五星级酒店和法国高档餐厅也为学员提供实习和就业机会。但我还是担心，假如哪一天它们不再提供或减少赞助了呢？”可喜的 是，3月下旬“海上青”有了自己的烘焙中心，“过去一直借用曹杨职校教学设施和校舍资源，现在有了自个的‘根据地’，爱心人士来参加慈善捐款活动就会方便 很多。而且，食品售卖许可证办下来后，这里就可以卖面包了，会有点收入。”不仅如此，马弘睿还挑选了出类拔萃的“苗子”送去法国培训，第一批就是张振海、 王莉和肖金金，他们回来后就是“海上青”的小老师了。“这样，即便现在的法国培训师哪天回国了，也不用为师资发愁。”
23-year old Zhang Zhenghai would never have dreamt that he could have the opportunity of studying overseas in France one day. Orphaned when he was 16, Zhang had to stop schooling as he could not afford the fees. After much difficulty, he managed to find a job in a toy factory with a meager salary. “I felt like a mechanical robot. There was no way of me making it big out there. No hope at all for me in my life.”
2009 was a life-changing moment for Zhang. A group of French found out about his situation through a charity organization. They told Zhang he could have the chance to learn the art of traditional French bakery, without any cost. Upon graduation from the course, Zhang could find a job in a bakery of Shanghai’s five-star hotel. Asked if he was interested, “It feels like I’ve striked the grand prize in the lottery. Is this for real?” With that, Zhang who has never eaten bread nor travelled far from his hometown before, left Shanxi province for Shanghai. Dressed in his chef uniform to learn the art of traditional French bakery, Zhang was joined by more than 20 other orphans from all parts of China. Subsequently, Zhang also learnt French. Together with his other classmates Xiao Jinjin and Wang Li, they applied for a French visa and travelled to Europe’s prestigious Bakery School of Aurillac (Ecole française de Boulangerie Aurillac, EFBA) for an overseas education.
Teach a Man to Fish, and Change His Life
Shanghai Young Bakers (SYB), a social innovation project started by a group of French living in Shanghai, helped to reignite Zhang’s hope in life. Since its beginnings in February 2009, SYB has touched the lives of a total of 53 orphans. Thomas Meron, Program Manager of SYB said, “With the collaboration of 3 other organizations – Chi Heng Foundation, Children of Madaifu and Half the Sky Foundation, we help orphans who satisfy the following requirements: aged 17 to 23, with middle school education, in good health, and without criminal records. Most importantly, they must have an interest in baking, a motivation to bake. There was a student who came to Shanghai and who complained that she disliked baking. So we had to send her back.” In 2010, Shanghai Young Bakers was rated as one of the highest-potential charity programs in the Youth Social Impact Competition.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Shanghai Young Bakers not only contributes back to the society, but also helps to meet the demand of a shortage of bakers in the China baking industry. In China, there are a great number who fall below the poverty line and needs help. What can help change their lives is not simply money, but a set of skills to earn a living. All of our two batches of students managed to find a job after their graduation. In Shanghai’s baking industry, there are too many pastry chefs, but very few bakers. There are people calling me almost every week to ask for recommendations of bakers. Finding a job for the kids is definitely not a problem.” Thomas Meron is currently Shanghai Young Bakers’ only full-time staff. For SYB, gave up his high-paying job in a French company. “There are 10 volunteers who come by to help regularly, but they can only devote a part of their time. A sustainable, long-term organization still needs full-time staff.” Thomas said smiling.
French Baking With a Heart
Shanghai Young Bakers has everything thought out in detail for the kids. “The training program lasts for a year, and covers three sections, which include China’s Western pastry courses, traditional French baking and academic lessons (e.g. English, language, mathematics, computing etc.) Upon graduation, they are able to obtain a certificate in Asian pastry and another in vocational education. Training is rigorous. Besides a practical examination, the written examination comprises of multiple-choice questions as well as open-ended questions, and requires them to commit more than 10 recipes to memory.” Thomas said, “With both an academic certificate and an officially recognized vocational certificate, they will have a higher competitive edge in the industry.” At the same time, SYB also brought in the popular training model of “Learn-On-The-Job” into China. “Every month, there will be 2 weeks spent in school to learn baking techniques, and another 2 weeks spent on practical internship in a 5-star hotel with the guidance of the bakery’s main chef. Each student has a mentor to guide them along.”
Recalling about her first lesson, Wang Li could not hold back her smile. “Our French bakery teacher, Thomas Kalkoven always said, ‘Simply having the technique is not enough. You need to put your heart and soul into baking. That’s the only way to bake delicious French bread. That day, he asked us to make any shape of bread that we wanted to. I hastily made the shapes of two little mice and placed it into the oven. When we took them out, the mice had risen and transformed into one huge lump. We could only recognize the tail, it was strange-looking.” Now, Wang Li has long mastered the art of kneading, rising, and leavening etc. In their process of learning, the kids also gradually fell in love with the taste of crusty French bread. Wang Li said, “Freshly baked bread is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. It has a springy texture like Ra-men when you chew it in your mouth. The longer you chew, the more fragrant it is. Life is no longer as bitter as before.”
22-year old Xiao Jinjin is from Anhui province. “All of our lessons and meals are at Cao Yang Vocational School. We don’t have to spend a single cent at all. On top of that, we still get transport subsidy and pocket money every month.” However, Jinjin could not fully understand why Thomas Meron bought insurance for them. “It’s pretty safe here. Why do we need to buy insurance?”
Let Love Live On
Thomas Meron tells us that he is not the pioneer of Shanghai Young Bakers. “In 2008, 12 French volunteers, amongst them who are professional managers, artists and homemakers etc, wanted to find a way to contribute back to the society. But what should they do? Who needs the most help? Helping the orphans came to their mind first. After a few months of market research, they discovered that there was a growing popularity of Western pastry in Shanghai. However, it was difficult to find French baguettes, croissants etc. Till now, there is only one organization in the whole of China that provides professional French baking training, in Guangzhou. After much discussion, we decided to focus on traditional French baking, and provide the poor children in China with an opportunity to learn a set life skill.” Currently, all 12 French pioneers have gradually left China one by one, but the Shanghai Young Bakers project still carries on. “What heartens me is that we started off with solely French volunteers, but we now have volunteers from different countries, with a majority of local youths.”
It is Thomas Meron’s dream to make Shanghai Youth Bakers sustainable and allow it to carry on. “Fortunately, Shanghai Young Bakers has received sponsorship from Carrefour Foundation, Lesaffre, and Roquette-Sweetpearl. Local five-star hotels and higher end French restaurants also provide students with internship and employment opportunities. However, I am still worried. What if they decide to stop or lessen their sponsorship one day?” Looking at things on the bright side, Shanghai Young Bakers now has their own baking centre in late March. “In the past, we have been borrowing Cao Yang Vocational School’s facilities and resources. Now with our own baking centre, it will be a lot more convenient for donors to participate in our charity events. After getting our license for sale of food, we will be able to get income with the sale of breads.” On top of that, Thomas has also chosen outstanding students to learn traditional French baking in France. The very first batch of students are Zhang Zhenhai, Wang Li, and Xiao Jinjin. When they return from France, they will become Shanghai Young Bakers’ junior teachers. “In this way, even if our current French baking teacher returns home one day, we would not have to worry about teacher resources.”