Last weekend, I found myself in Kampot helping out at a Motocross Enduro Race (more on that soon). Between arriving in Kampot after an amazing three hour ride and getting the practice races up and running, my friend, Stefanie and I managed to grab breakfast at Epic Arts Cafe.
Epic Arts Cafe is a social enterprise established in 2006. Epic Arts Café is a model for an inclusive working environment serving travellers, expats and locals alike. It’s part of a larger organization called Epic Arts, an international, inclusive arts organization based in Cambodia and registered as a charity in the United Kingdom. They use the arts as a form of expression and empowerment to bring people with and without disabilities together. They aim to promote the message that every person counts through their inclusive education, community and social enterprise programmes.
Epic Arts believes that every person counts and that everyone should be valued and seen as a creative individual with a voice. In the future, Epic Arts wishes to be at the forefront of inclusive arts in Cambodia and the South East Asian region as well as an important voice in the wider development of inclusive arts worldwide. Over the next 10 Years Epic Arts wants to achieve success in all areas if its work by focusing on four key goals;
- Spread the message that every person counts.
- Be sustainable in all areas within the organization.
- Raise our profile as a leading international inclusive arts organization.
- Ensure high quality and best practice in all areas of their work.
The aim is to fund Epic Arts in a sustainable way. Every year their target is to generate 60% of their budget through social enterprise projects. In 2006, they opened our first social enterprise, Epic Arts Café, to increase work opportunities for people with disabilities in Kampot and to generate funds for their Inclusive Arts projects. The café is a welcoming place to enjoy yummy food and drink in a positive environment. Stef and I had an amazing breakfast, coffee and checked out the shop they have on the second floor of the building. Since I rode my motorcycle to Kampot, I was worried about carrying extra weight but Stef treated me to a metal straw and cute carrying bag. (Plastic in Cambodia is completely out of control. I’m excited to put this bad boy to good use here in Cambodia and plan on keeping it in my backpack from now on.)
The coolest thing about the cafe is that most of the staff is deaf so they needed a way to easily communicate with customers and created a great solution – a tick sheet form – an ordering system designed to be inclusive, complete with English, Khmer and icons. They also have a selection of basic Cambodian Sign Language (DDP) throughout their menus for customers to try out with staff.
Epic Arts holds the value that every person counts and should be accepted and treated equally at the core of its work. The organization is founded on and continuously guided by the Christian faith but does is not seek to proselytize or impose its religious beliefs on others. They respect the religious beliefs and practices in countries where they work. The work is open to all people regardless of faith or personal beliefs, disability, ethnicity, intellect, gender, sexuality, nationality or background.
Have you ever been to a deaf cafe before? What did you think of the experience?