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Glimmer of hope for disabled
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Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited (Towngas) and Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) jointly launched a social enterprise project called Cook Easy at Wong Chuk Hang.

The project aims at offering vocational training and job opportunities to people with disability and low-income groups. "With real working experience, the disabled persons will be more confident in seeking other jobs," said Fanny Ong, assistant superintendent of TWGHs Jockey Club Rehabilitation Complex.

The staffs are responsible for dish preparation, packaging and sending the order to residents of courts under Henderson Land Group. The service has started on Hong Kong Island and TWGHs hoped to expand its service to the entire city.

"We hope to expand the scale of production in half a year, from 100 packs daily to 400," Ong said, adding that 14 staffs will be employed by then.

Towngas and TWGHs are seeking to bring in more social enterprise projects with non-governmental organizations.

"I am very happy with my job," said Leung, who has mild mental retardation.

"I learnt the preparation and seasoning of some dishes and sometime I cook at home too," said Cheung, who suffered from mental illness. "Working here is now a habit for me. I enjoy it fully."

There are altogether eight disabled persons currently employed by Cook Easy. There are also nine vacancies for training disabled persons.

Meanwhile, a concerned group also expressed its interest in participating in the project.

"We appreciate the project which supports people with disabilities as it is very difficult for them to seek a job in the society," said Ng Fung-ching, chairperson of the Parents' Association of Pre-school Handicapped Children, a self-help organization.

Unemployment rate of disabled people has reached double digit at present, said Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labor and Welfare.

"We hope that more disabled people can be benefited from the project," Ng added.

(China Daily December 12, 2007)

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