A restaurant, said to be the first of its kind in China, is offering training and jobs to people with learning disabilities, it’s reported.
The Forrest Gump restaurant- named after the film starring Tom Hanks – is the brainchild of Hu Yanping, who has reportedly adopted over 100 children with learning difficulties since her own son died in 2001, the People’s Daily newspaper reports. Hu has offered jobs to a dozen people after they completed their training at the establishment in the city of Changchun, in north-eastern China’s Jilin province. Hu, known to her employees as “Forrest Gump mama”, offers a monthly salary of 300 yuan ($48; £30), which rises as her employees become more experienced.
While some people have dismissed the restaurant as a gimmick, Hu tells the state-run newspaper that “Gump restaurant is not aiming at making a lot of money, but to provide those people with an opportunity to work. I hope they can also find happiness, dignity, and worth in working”.
The Jilin provincial government, which offered work training for over 34,000 disabled people in 2014, is picking up half of the restaurant’s running costs as part of a new supported employment scheme, People’s Daily says. Provincial Disabled Person’s Federation Chairman Cheng Dacheng told local television that “We hope to accumulate some experience from this experiment… and then progressively promote this across the whole province”. Zhao Shuang, one of the restaurant’s helpers, spoke to local TV of her hopes in a society that has been, at best, ambivalent toward the disabled: “The main thing is that these people’s lives include some basic restaurant etiquette, manners and polite language so that they can be seen for the first time as ordinary people”.