JAKARTA : Ahmad Hilmy Almusawa is no ordinary barista.
Ten years ago, Hilmy had completely lost his sight to glaucoma, an eye condition that damaged his optic nerve. His blindness, however, does not stop the 22-year-old from serving a nice cup of coffee at Mata Hati Koffie in South Tangerang, Banten.
At the age of five, Hilmy and his grandmother flew to Sydney, Australia, to consult a pediatric glaucoma expert. He also underwent three surgeries in attempt to recover his eyesight.
“When I was a little boy, I could see for a while. There is no cure for this, but we can prevent it from getting worse. I had an eye surgery thrice, well, it turns out that it was already God’s destiny,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Friday.
From then on, his mother becomes his eyes. Every time they travel, she explains to him about his surroundings.
“Mama doesn’t want me to be a child who lacks knowledge despite having disability,” Hilmy said.
After returning from Sydney, Hilmy’s mother learned Braille at a foundation for disabled persons. She later taught her son the tactile writing system by putting Braille labels in every room and object in the house. Thanks to the motherly love, Hilmy learnt to accept his disability and focused on sharpening his sense of touch to read Braille.
At Mata Hati Koffie, Hilmy dreams of serving the best brown sugar iced coffee in town.
Before opening the cafe, Hilmy first learned the ropes of coffee making at local coffee roaster Tadi Pagi. The visually impaired man found it difficult at the beginning, but he eventually managed to get a good grip of steaming milk and made espresso.
All three baristas running Mata Hati Koffie, including Hilmy, have disabilities. Hilmy hopes that they all not only learn to adapt, but regain confidence and become independent despite their disabilities.
“I hope I can open a new store that employs people with disabilities. I would like to live life to the absolute fullest and never stop fighting,” Hilmy said.
BY :YUDHA BASKORO – THE JAKARTA GLOBE