Going out on a limb

IT is not every day that one comes across a laundry run by disabled people.

One such laundry is Kedai OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) Dobi Pulau Pinang which recently opened in Komtar, Penang.

The shop easily catches the eye and attention of passers-by due to its location facing the entrance of Komtar Walk and its brightly-lit signboards.

Mainly supported by the AmBank Group which contributed RM63,000, the shop was initiated and managed by Koperasi OKU Pulau Pinang Berhad (formerly known as Koperasi Cerebral Palsy (Spastik) Pulau Pinang Berhad).

The amount covers the start-up costs, including three industrial washing machines and a year’s rental of the laundry premises.

Cooperative chairman Saw Hock Eng said the shop, which began operations on Oct 3, would be officially launched on Nov 17.

Saw, also the immediate past president of The Cerebral Palsy (Spastic) Children’s Association of Penang, said he saw a laundry run by disabled people in MidValley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, also supported by AmBank Group, which spurred him on to look for a good location to set up a similar one in Penang.

“As the disabled attendants work at the laundry, the public can see that they can do the job and with training, they can learn to live independently.

“We have special washing machines using Korean technology that does dry cleaning, wet cleaning and drying. The machines are easy for the staff to handle,” Saw said in an interview at the shop yesterday.

He added that the staff received a monthly pay, thereby lessening the burden on their parents and families.

“The location of the shop is also convenient for those working in Komtar as they can pick up their laundry, such as jackets and tudung, after half an hour.

“Tourists staying in nearby hotels can also send their laundry here,” he said.

Saw said the shop would set up a collection centre on the third floor of Komtar where customers can drop their laundry and pick them up later after cleaning.

Association treasurer Nutan B. Shah said disabled youth who began work after reaching 18 could learn to live independently.

“When their parents are gone, who is going to take care of them? With their earnings and RM300 financial aid from the Welfare Department, they can survive,” he said.

The shop’s person-in-charge, Kalyani Rambyer, 62, said she would guide the staff by helping them to weigh the laundry, among other tasks.

The cooperative is still looking for sponsors to assist in the shop’s operations.

The shop, which charges between RM1 and RM10 for cleaning clothes, uniforms and soft toys, is open daily except on weekends from 10am to 5pm.

It might open also on weekends in the future.

It also sells packaged food, used soft toys, bags and books.

For details, call Saw at 019-4720831 or Shah at 012-5766588.

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