Kaleidoscope has officially opened South Africa’s first blind museum/coffee shop, called the Blindiana Barista, in Worcester, in the Western Cape. According to Freddie Botha, executive head at Kaleidoscope, a non-profit organisation (previously known as The Institute for the Blind), the project started two years ago.
“The plan was to incorporate the existing museum that displays the first 100 years of the history of Kaleidoscope, from 1881 until 1981, with a coffee shop and now that dream has come true,” says Botha. “The coffee shop is a great marketing project for Kaleidoscope, where we will be able to cater for visitors coming for tours and visits to our organisation.”
Botha says that patrons visiting the new restaurant/museum, will be served by visually impaired waiters and that some of the chefs preparing the food at the gnocchi bar are also blind, or partially sighted.
Visitors will get the opportunity to taste Kaleidoscope’s new Blindiana custom roast coffee blend, a Kaleidoscope & Beans for Africa Roasters initiative, which was created from Central and South American coffees, blended with African beans.
“The coffee, which has a great aroma and lingering finish, is extra special in that it is blended, tasted, packed and distributed by the blind and prepared by blind baristas, including Joseph Matheatau, SA’s first blind barista, who has been working at the museum since 2014,” he explains.
“It is part of our strategic plan to train some of our persons with low vision and intellectual disabilities to do waitressing,” he explains. “The shop will also display different products and furniture made by our people with visual impairments and will provide the opportunity for us to train our disabled as waiters, baristas, and in food manufacturing, as well as tour guides.”
He continues; “At Kaleidoscope, visually impaired persons of all ages are empowered through the provision of education, training, care, employment, development and accommodation towards a fulfilled life and complete citizenship.”
Botha says that the launch of the coffee shop would not have been possible without the funding for the revamp, which was given by the F.W de Klerk Foundation, Charl van der Merwe Trust, and the Jeanette Luttig Trust.
Proceeds from the shop will go towards further extension of services to persons with visual impairments at Kaleidoscope. “We are planning other initiatives to ensure they are trained in skills that enhance their employability,” Botha adds.
An example of this is Kaleidoscope’s recently launched Kaleidoscope Technological Centre that provides Apple training for the visually impaired, aimed at empowering the blind and visually impaired with employability skills for the open labour market.
Hein Wagner, Kaleidoscope’s brand ambassador, motivational speaker, and global adventurer, says that he is hoping that the blind staff in the new restaurant will inspire others who are blind, deaf, visually impaired and disabled to realise that with determination and the appropriate training, support and guidance, anything is possible.
Feedem, a leading food service company that offers turn-key catering solutions throughout the Southern African markets, have been supplying Kaleidoscope with catering services for the past 25 years and is now extending its relationship by partnering with Kaleidoscope on this initiative.
Feedem will be supplying the systems and support for the execution of the Blindiana Coffee House offerings and Elnastien Kotze, Feedem’s regional director says: “Feedem’s slogan of Good Food, Good Mood, compliments the Kaleidoscope vision for the Coffee House and the empowerment of the visually impaired.”