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Mentally impaired earn their bread at Nanjing bakery

Updated: 2015-10-20 13:14
By Liu Jing (chinadaily.com.cn)


Mentally impaired earn their bread at Nanjing bakery

Huihui (left) hugs her instructor at the bakery. [Photo/provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The sentence, ‘everyone is an apple bitten by God', is printed on the leaflets of Amity Bakery. The bakery was founded by a Chinese Christian NGO in 2007 to help those mentally challenged to learn baking skills and get job opportunities.

The bakery runs two locations in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and about a third of its employees are mentally challenged.

An apple bitten by God

Huihui was diagnosed with Down's syndrome when she was an infant and is one of the participants at Amity Bakery's training program. At the age of 31, she is less than 1.4 meters tall and has an IQ of a 7-year-old.

Huihui usually stays home and spends most of her day watching TV. When she first came to Amity Bakery in 2010, Huihui was so nervous she couldn't even put the cookie dough in a row. Her mother was worried that Huihui might get lost on her way to the shop so she would follow her every day.

Pan Beibin, who is in charge of the program at Amity Bakery, says the training process can be quite challenging for newcomers.

"It often takes a long time for the trainees to learn a simple action like opening and closing the door due to their intellectual disability," says Pan.

Huihui enjoys her new job. She spent six hard weeks learning how to wear the uniform properly. But after five years, she's become a professional baker.

"The best thing for me is to be dressed in beautiful work clothes and make cookies," said Huihui.

Her progress in baking is often overshadowed by her progress in being able to interact socially. Huihui surprised her mother on her 60th birthday by using the money she earned at the bakery to buy her mom a gift. 

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