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Visit from the Dutch Ambassador and the Amsterdam Mayor

IMG_3325 On Tuesday 9 December, Donkey Bakery received some distinguished guests – Mrs, Nienke Trooster, the recently arrived Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam, and Mr Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands.

The Ambassador and the Mayor were treated to afternoon tea and a presentation by Marc Stenfert Kroese on the history and operations of Donkey Bakery, and its mission to provide inclusive employment opportunities. They also heard from Mark Sayer, Principal of BVIS, one of the schools to which Donkey Bakery provides canteen services.

The guests were interested to hear of the history and experiences of running a social enterprise offering opportunities to disabled people in Vietnam. They were also very interested to hear more about the cakes they were eating and even had suggestion for Dutch specialities the bakery could produce in future. The meeting ended with a promise to explore opportunities to share experiences between Donkey Bakery and some ofAmsterdam’s master bakers. Look out for more Dutch specialities from Donkey Bakery in the future…

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October 13th, 2014: Special Screening of “Lives Worth Living” and Discussion about Disability at Donkey Bakery

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More photos of the event can be found at Donkey Bakery’s Facebook page. Please check out:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.783936921670087.1073741841.100170703380049&type=1

Last Wednesday evening, Donkey Bakery in partnership with CSDS (Center for Sustainable Development Studies) organized a special screening of “Lives Worth Living”, a documentary that follows the Disability Rights Movement in the United States and how people with disabilities (one of the largest minorities in the US) rallied together to demand equal civil rights and opportunities. This eventually resulted in the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act–one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in America’s history.

After the screening, a powerful group discussion was held where participants shared their views on how to create more awareness regarding the stigma of disability, the importance of solidarity, support systems, and community in order to feel empowered, and the difference between charity and helping.

More than 60 people from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds had packed into Donkey Bakery’s café for this event, where the discussion was communicated and interpreted in three languages (Vietnamese, English, and Vietnamese Sign Language) by volunteer translators in order to have a more inclusive discussion. Edda, a sketch-noter, had also drawn a large, visual representation of important ideas and topics being discussed so that participants could view and contribute to the discussion in an alternative, visually appealing way.

With this event, the organizers aimed to contribute to the global discussion surrounding disability by providing a space where individuals could come together and share their thoughts, emotions, and personal struggles surrounding the stigma of disability.

Here is what Jennifer, one of the organizers of the event, had to reflect after the night was over:

As more and more people came through the doors, I realized that we were all participating in something beyond this night. As a collective group, we were taking small steps toward a larger movement where we wanted to discover more about one another as people, an acknowledgement of the inherent human rights of all individuals.

I felt something. A crackling charge in the air as I glanced at all of the familiar and new faces spinning around me in the café.

I felt Hope. I saw Hope.

With deep, shaking breaths, I wanted to control the sense of warmth in my chest. Laughing, crying, or some kind of deep utterance to explain how bright it felt because here we all were in THIS moment sharing our time and experiences and knowledge together.

It was unexpected to see how many people here tonight, and I was touched. I didn’t know until after the night was over, but I was seeking affirmation in humanity. And I found it. Even though change doesn’t happen overnight, last night was proof that people want change…

Let’s keep building.

We would like to give our most heartfelt thanks to all of the folks that came out to the event! A special shout out would also like to go to Trang for capturing moments with her camera, Edda for sketch-noting, and Giang and Thang for translating in sign as well as our other interpreters for the event!

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If you’d like to learn more about disability and the stigma of disability within the context of Vietnam, please check out the following sources:

“Economic costs of living with disabilities and stigma in Viet Nam” by the Institute of Social Development Studies (ISDS) addresses the cumulative relationships among disability, stigma and poverty:
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/content/docs/agent-orange/Economic_Costs_of_Living_with_Disability_and_Stigma_in_Vietnam_AUG-10-2013.pdf

“People with Disabilities in Viet Nam” by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provides a brief socio-economic profile of disability in Vietnam based on data from a 2009 population and housing census:
http://unfpa.org/webdav/site/vietnam/shared/Disability_ENG.pdf

Law on Persons with Disabilities in Vietnam:
http://www.moj.gov.vn/vbpq/en/_layouts/printeng.aspx?id=10482

“World Report on Disability” by the World Health Organization (WHO):
http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/

“Inclusion Made Easy: A Quick Program Guide to Disability in Development” by CBM which focuses on disability-inclusive development principles and disability inclusion across a range of of development sectors:
http://www.cbm.org/article/downloads/78851/CBM_Inclusion_Made_Easy_-_complete_guide.pdf

 

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October 3rd, 2014: New World Race Team of Volunteers at Donkey

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We are happy to announce that a new group of US volunteers from the World Race Organization have joined us for October!

Like the previous group in July, they will be teaching English classes to our team members five days a week and sharing their cooking skills and knowledge of international recipes in the kitchen. They will also be supporting our customer service and management team with training sessions that emphasize on leadership, team-building, and problem-solving skills! In exchanging knowledge and time, our Donkey team will provide Vietnamese language classes for the dedicated group!

Volunteering at Donkey will be their tenth country in ten months in their global race to serve a community through volunteer work. We hope that Donkey Bakery can provide a warm sense of Home for our group of volunteers in their time here, and that we can learn and develop as a community.

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September 15th, 2014: Meet Victoria, Our New Donkey Bakery Intern!

For the next three months, Victoria will be with our Donkey team supporting our HR and Management department. Originally from Moldova, she has lived in the Netherlands for the last five years where she studied Economics and Business and received her Bachelor’s degree at Nyenrode Business University, a prestigious Dutch business school.

Victoria has a keen interest in learning more about companies that focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and when her university study trip visited Donkey Bakery last May, she became very enthusiastic about the prospects of interning here.

She hopes to contribute to the development of Donkey Bakery by supporting our HR department in establishing a professional process where our HR crew can manage human resources in the most efficient and effective manner. She also hopes to help support our hearing and physically impaired team members by keeping them motivated and focused on the job!

When she’s not interning at Donkey, here’s what Victoria had to say about what she’s most excited for in her time in Vietnam:

“I am a big fan of Vietnamese cuisine, so I want to try everything they can offer. Also, I am looking forward to renting a scooter and being part of the crazy traffic on the street, although at the moment I am a bit scared of doing so. Furthermore, I am very excited to explore the country side of Vietnam with its rice fields and visit Ho Chi Minh City.”

With zealous energy, compassion, and knowledge, we are excited to have Victoria join the team!

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September 8th, 2014: Donkey’s Blind Team Members, Hoa and Hoan, Go to Thailand for Eye Examination

If you are a frequent visitor to our Donkey Bakery shop and cafe or you often call our hotline for delivery orders, you may be familiar with Hoa and Hoan. They are our phone operators here at Donkey, and they are blind. This hasn’t inhibited them from providing excellent service to our customers, however, because both Hoa and Hoan have impeccable listening skills. With their ability to listen with intent to understand and their perceptive awareness of situations, they both have been great assets to our Donkey team. Their customer service skills as well as their approach in providing insightful advice to our team members have allowed our team to grow stronger as a whole. Without a doubt, they are exemplary role models within Donkey Bakery.

Last week and a half, Hoa and Hoan accompanied Luyen Shell, co-founder of Donkey Bakery, to Bangkok, Thailand where they met with doctors from the eye department at BNH Hospital. With no charge for medical services, the doctors meticulously examined their eyes to learn more about their eye conditions and to know if there was any likelihood for cataract surgery recovery. Although the eye examination did not end in favor for both Hoa and Hoan, they were finally able to understand the history of what had happened to their eyes…

With gratitude, Hoa and Hoan are both very appreciative to the medical staff at BNH Hospital for providing VIP treatment in and outside of the hospital. Not only were they treated with the highest quality of medical care, the Vice Chairman of BNH Hospital and his family even took Hoa, Hoan, and Luyen out for a night on the town! They spent a wonderful evening at O’Reiilys Irish Pub where they listened to the Bangkok Beatles tribute band all night, while the staff at O’Reiilys provided complimentary food and drinks! The entire Donkey team would like to give our most sincere thanks to BNH Hospital for taking care of two very special people in our hearts, and to O’Reiilys Irish Pub for giving them an extraordinary night out in Thailand.

And in order to truly show the kind nature of Hoa and Hoan, here is the English translation of what they had to say to all those who had supported them before their departure to Thailand:

“Both Hoan and I know that it is very difficult for us to have good results in our eyes. But this opportunity is a good chance, and although this opportunity may result in unfavorable results, we remain hopeful.  No matter the outcome, we both want to give our many thanks and to express our deepest gratitude as much as we can with our words to you and to others who are willing to help

We thank all of the compassionate people who had supported Hoa and Hoan, and like the sentiment of our two blind team members, we remain hopeful for the future.

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August 22nd, 2014: Eating Healthy for Healthy Minds!

Teaching children how to bake Yummy, Healthy Sandwich Fruits for Health

The best way to teach children about nutrition is to SHOW them the ingredients that go into the food they eat!

Here at Donkey Bakery, we believe that the school environment plays an important role in nurturing and sustaining good eating habits. As canteen service providers for schools, we strive to serve well-balanced meals with a wide variety of nutritious foods from different food groups such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Eating our sweet treats is fine as well, because what’s important is to not overly consume and to throw off a well-balanced diet! We emphasize on Quality, which is why our Donkey team devotes the time to create all of our food from scratch—there’s no such thing as shortcuts.

There’s also no such thing as shortcuts to eating healthy. But why is it especially important for growing children to eat healthy? Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between what you eat and how you think and feel! For kids to be the best academic students they can be, it’s important for them to have healthy eating habits because it has been proven to sharpen minds and to stabilize energy levels.

Since food preferences are generally acquired during childhood, the school environment is important in developing healthy eating habits at a young age. Our Donkey team is fully aware of the role that we play in the canteens, which is reflected in how we highly value the importance of children developing good eating habits. Not only have we held contests in the canteens that reward children who eat the most vegetables, we have also taught children the historical significance and versatility of vegetables such as the potato so that they are able to have a greater knowledge of the food they put into their body.

We are currently planning some exciting activities to educate schoolchildren about the importance of nutrition and how eating healthy boosts brainpower!

Stay tuned!

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June 30th, 2014: A Fond Farewell to Two Very Special Team Members

Corine with Marc and Luyen Rayke with Hoa

At the end of June, we said our goodbyes to Corine De Marc (Catering Sales Manager) who was with us for six months, and Rayke Nelis (Lunch Delivery Manager) who was with us for nine months. Although they have left our team, their time and efforts have put the pieces into place which have formed a strong foundation for our Donkey Team to continue to build upon. We are deeply thankful for their loving support, commitment, and innovative ideas!

On behalf of the Donkey Team, we wish Corine and Rayke the best of luck in their future endeavors!

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August 2nd, 2014: A New Face in Our Cafe

We are excited to announce that Donkey Bakery has a new café shop manager! We are certain that Mr. Tung’s positive presence will bolster our team spirit and motivation in our café, and we’re so happy to have him join the team.

Why not come by our café, enjoy some of our tasty food, and give Mr. Tung a warm welcome to our Donkey Bakery community?