Inside the gallery of the New Market in the co-capital one can find a very colorful cafe-bar lately. It has a colorful, cheerful courtyard, where customers only order in sign language. The staff of the “Next Stop”, as the store is called, consists of deaf and hard of hearing people.
But if you do not know sign language, there is no problem. Customers use body language and with a little imagination and mostly mood, communication is always achieved and even creates a special positive energy between employees and customers.
Speaking to ethnos.gr, Bernard Hainari, an employee of “Next Stop”, describes the path that finally brought him to this business. He himself wanted to work in construction, but the foreman who was looking for a workforce in Halkidiki at that time, did not hire him due to his hearing problem.
But Bernard did not give up. After some other general duties jobs, last August he started working in the cafe-bar and states that he does not have any difficulty with people’s orders. Miglena, who is 36 years old, has a similar story to tell. Miglena has finished her studies at TEE Informatics and wanted to find a similar job. However, due to her hearing loss, communication was difficult and she always missed opportunities, as occupational racism still holds up well in Greece.
Now she declares herself happy as she works at COINSEP “Next Stop”, since as she states in her interview with ethnos.gr “I do not have problems with people. Because here they know that the employees are deaf and that is why we talk with meanings. I like it and I am very happy. We talk to the children we work with. “
Behind this initiative is Dimitris Kouvroukis, president of COINSEP. Mr. Kouvroukis already had experience from similar social inclusion programs for the disabled abroad and mainly in Asia, Nepal, India and the Philippines. Thus, they were inspired and adapted those ideas to the Greek data. But what were his motivations for taking this step? He answers ethnos.gr that life flows differently for a deaf or hard of hearing person when he has the opportunity to work: “His life acquires meaning and he has a small income. He begins to self-organize, to dream, to meet other people, to socialize and see life differently, than to receive a bonus of sitting on the couch in a small closed family environment. Greek families when they have people with special needs try to hide them. It is another mentality, another culture that must be broken, changed… “.
Source: Εναλλακτική Δράση by enallaktikidrasi.com.
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