Jinja, Uganda

By Caleb Okereke Contributor to the CS Monitor

Shadia and Imran Nakueira rented the space for a restaurant in the dreamy, lakeside town of Jinja, Uganda, before they knew exactly what they were going to do with it. 

They knew one thing though: They wanted to work alongside people with disabilities. 

When customers first enter Sikia Cafe, in the lakeside town of Jinja, Uganda, they’ll first spot colorful ice cream flavors. And when it’s time to order, they’ll notice an infographic on their menus, teaching them how to sign for the items they’d like.

The cafe is staffed by deaf waiters. But its founders, Shadia and Imran Nakueira, hope Sikia will do more than provide employment opportunities. The goal is to change attitudes toward the deaf community in Uganda, where misunderstanding and discrimination toward deaf people are common. The cafe’s name is derived from Swahili, and means “hear” or “listen” – which Ms. Nakueira emphasizes can happen in so many ways, not just through sound. 

Though change is slow, staff say that watching people’s perceptions and attitudes change has been rewarding.

“You come here and you see children and clients who have never interacted with a deaf person before, interacting with our staff,” says Mr. Nakueira. “The fact that it’s a business that is transforming society, even if by one small step every day, it kind of makes you feel, what more can I do?”

To read the entire inspiring article and see image credit, visit https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2020/0917/Fighting-stigma-with-ice-cream-at-Sikia-Cafe