Photo: Courtesy of Disability Horizons
At the Hotel Panda in Budapest, Hungary, no obstacle is too large, no impairment insurmountable. What started as a favour to a friend has now morphed into the world’s only hotel run by disabled employees, according to Adelina E. Chalmers, who visited the hotel and documented its unique story. Back in 2007, Bela Koscy and his family bought the Hotel Panda and began staffing its facilities. When one of Koscy’s friends developed a brain tumour and lost his sight, Koscy gave him the opportunity to get out of the house and the doctors’ offices for a few hours a day by working at the Panda’s reception desk. What Koscy considers a small favour, however, turned into a transformative experience for him and his business.
Koscy’s friend gained an immense self-esteem boost from working at the hotel which inspired Koscy to expand on the idea of employing disabled workers. But because Hungary offers scant special education, Koscy was forced to train many of the employees himself, though it never caused him any extra stress, Chalmers writes.
Instead, he found that disabled workers had excellent interpersonal skills and he’s adopted different ways to communicate with staff members who struggle with vocal impairments, such as writing down instructions and demonstrating tasks.
Today Panda employs workers with disabilities ranging from hearing impairments to senior staff suffering from polio amputations, spine injuries, and severe depression. Koscy’s idea is catching on, too. NGO’s across Europe are sending disabled individuals to Panda to receive a three-month apprenticeship, according to Chalmers.
In a world of glitz and glamor at hotels, it’s nice to see a company giving back.
To learn more about working with disabled individuals, please visit Promoting Good Practice
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