Irish ambassador Liam MacGabhann with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier and Tony Stals, a former pupil of the old St Augustine’s school open the St Augustine’s Cafe. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi

DURBAN - The first ‘deaf cafe’ opened in Durban on Wednesday where deaf staff not only serve mouthwatering snacks - but can also teach you a word or two in sign language.

At the official opening of St Augustine’s Cafe, Director of the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban where the new cafe is situated on the second floor, Raymond Perrier said the goal of the project was to prepare deaf young adults, known as the Face-To-Face Team in business and catering skills.

Officiating at the ribbon cutting of the new cafe, Irish ambassador to South Africa, Liam Macgabhann, whose country has partnered in the project, said when they were approached about the cafe “we felt it could be sustained, so this very much fits into our broader strategy at the embassy to support sustainable development in South Africa and to support disabilities specifically within that goal. It's historic to be involved in this programme. There is such a sense of quality and warmth between the different faiths here in Durban - it could really be a lesson to the rest of the world."

Natascha McAllister, Operations Manager for NGO ‘I Can’, which provided the business skills learnership for the nine deaf young people, said “these young people have learned entrepreneurial and business skills and will now be able to manage the cafe which they have started. Our main goal is to integrate young people with disabilities into the working world."

Also supporting the new cafe were local restaurants donating catering equipment.

The Face-To-Face team were ready with big smiles at the launch to serve their special “Skyline” coffee, tea and cold drinks as well as freshly baked homemade cakes, muffins and snacks

St Augustine’s Cafe is open from 8am to 3pm, there is free Wifi and the prices are very reasonable - and there’s also the opportunity to learn some simple sign language.

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The Independent on Saturday