Taste of Love - Stories from the Amity Bakery

 

The Amity Bakery is a social enterprise started by the Amity Foundation in 2007. Workers in the Bakery includes clients from the Amity Home of Blessings, which was started in 2002 and first of its kind in Nanjing to provide services to mental challenged young people and their families in the city. While the Amity Home of Blessing focuses on special education, the Amity Bakery offers real- scenario vocational training along with job opportunities and, more importantly, maximizes awareness and well being of the mentally challenged people by quality production and applying successful market strategy.  Many lives were changed because of these two endevours of Amity.

Amity Bakery staff and Asian TV star Xie Ting Feng are promoting social welfare.

Zhou Jian, 33 years old with Down Syndrome, is now a proud baker and the “face” of the Amity Bakery. Zhou was diagnosed of the disease when he was in kindergarten. For more than twenty years, Zhou was placed at home because his mother did not have access to enough knowledge about the disease or other helpful resources.  His life made a sharp turn after his mother learned about the Amity Home of Blessings from a local newspaper and got him admitted in it right away in 2004.  When Zhou first came to the Home of Blessings, he was an adult kid who knew nothing at all. In order to help him, teachers made a lot of efforts. With their help, Zhou slowly came to understand the concept of words and numbers and established the confidence to communicate with others.  In 2007, when the Amity Bakery was started, Zhou was among the first group of trainees.  He was taught all kinds of baking skills by warm hearted instructors with great patience as it would take months to for him to learn how to knead the dough into a ball. But once he acquired one technique, he did it right from then on. Now he can make cookies, breads, and even moon cakes.  His great performance brought him a lot of praises and awards. He was in photo with Mr. Gary Locke, the US Ambassador to China. Who would have imagined this?

Mr Gary Locke, the US Ambassador to China (left),  Mrs. Sharon Johnston, wife of the Governor General of Canada (middle) and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury visited the Amity Bakery (right).

Huang wenhui (Huihui) is another baker in Amity Bakery. She is 29 year-old, also with Down Syndrome. Her IQ level is the same as that of a 7 year old. According to her teacher, she used to be quite cheerful but very afraid of things, like a loud voice from a stranger.  Before coming to the Amity Bakery, Huihui did not have any working experience. Like most of the young people with the same disease in China,  she sat at home and watched TV every day back then. Her parents were very worried and that made Huihui unhappy too.  In June 2011, Huihui was recruited by the Amity Bakery. She spent the first one and a half month to learn how to put on her uniform properly. Under the patient guidance by her instructors at the bakery, Huihui picked up things little by little, such as closing a lid of the cookie box and sticking a label to the packaging. Now Huihui is a professional baker, who makes delicious cookies for her customers with smile and love every day. “I will never forget the alluring aroma of my first tray of cookies when they came out of the oven”, Huihui remembers fondly in her letter to customers of the bakery. Huihui’s life is forever changed. So are her family members. They do not have to worry about the girl because they know she is capable of make a living on her own and people give her respect. Read more about her story here.

Amity Bakery co-workers selling products at a carnival (left). Chu Chaoyu speaks on an international conference about autism (right).

“The sustainability andn success of the Amity Bakery do not depend on charity, or worse, pity.” Says Mr. Chu Chaoyu, Chairman of the bakery’s board of directors, “As a social enterprise, we hope the bakery can win hearts of our customers by good quality and services.”  The Amity Bakery has opened several shops in Nanjing and one shop online now. Beside production for orders, the bakery also holds baking sessions for interested groups.