BENGALURU: Echoes Cafe in Koramangala is a famous hangout place, but many might not know that this café is run by employees with special needs. Giving communication a whole new meaning, this café operates on sign language. Girish Raju, owner of the franchise outlet, says he has always wanted to extend employment to people with disabilities since he was in college.
The staff here is hired from NGOs at rural areas and also those living in Bengaluru. “There has been no difficulty working with them as they are all well-trained and hardworking,” says Raju. They have employed around 40-45 people with disabilities and currently have 15 of them working at the Bengaluru outlet.
One of the staff members, Raghavendra, says, “Everything about Echoes is special to me. Getting employment initially was difficult but Echoes has changed my life.” Overwhelmed with joy, Chandrappa, another staff member, says, “Seeing customers here at Echoes makes me happy and working here gives me happiness.”
The Hobbit, Koramangala, gives flight to big dreams of people with dwarfism. Twenty-three-year-old M Rajashekar Reddy had been visiting Bengaluru from Anantapur since 2014 but every company he approached rejected him due to his height and hearing impairment. “Back home, I used to do farming and earned only `6,000 a month. My new job now here has given me hope for a better future,” said Reddy, who is 3 feet 9 inches tall.
Karthik Raj, the owner of the cafe that opened early this year, says giving back to society was always part of the plan during the cafe’s conceptualisation. “Growing up, I had a neighbour who was a dwarf and I saw how people would tease him by calling him names such as ‘chottu’. Often, people with this condition find it difficult to get a job,” he says.
With inputs from Sudeshna Dutta