Kenya: In promotion of diversity, four out of 15 employees at Pallet Cafe are deaf

Author: Karen Mbuya Muriuki, Daily Nation (Kenya), Published on: 24 March 2019

"Unique Nairobi restaurant where deaf waiters use sign language"

Dressed in all black attire, a number of waiters take orders from customers at a rustic outdoor cafe. The restaurant, located on James Gichuru Road, has been open for the past one and a half months and is slowly gaining popularity and becoming a fixture for food and coffee lovers. And there is a unique reason that draws in some clients. Four of the 15 employees at Pallet Cafe have hearing impairment. Among them are 24-year-old Edward Gitau and 35-year-old Boniface Oketch. The latter has worked at the cafe since business started running.

Edward was an artisan in his hometown of Ol Kalou before he moved to Nairobi to seek employment. Working at the cafe has been his best experience yet, he says. “It’s fresh here,” he said, laughing. “There is a big difference between the working environment here and in Ol Kalou, especially when it comes to communication. Here, people understand my disability and are always willing to help wherever they can. They try to integrate me into the community” He says he is comfortable working here because people appreciate him regardless of his disability. Back in Ol Kalou, he felt downtrodden because customers would chase him away and ask for an abled employee. Edward hopes that people with disabilities will be included in more employment areas, and he hopes to be part of that change.

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