7tea1 is a clever play on words and name, and I’m not stopping there. Discovering what it stands for is more clever once you find out that this wonderful organization, which was started in 2018, is dedicated to helping teenagers with special needs live the lives they desire by offering them learning skills and work opportunities.
I was lucky enough to conduct a short and sweet interview with the organizers and find out what 7tea1 actually means and where it stems from. “Our 1st product is local herbal infusion tea leaves. We began with 7 types of herbs and the saying just gradually developed and became ‘7 kinds of tea bring communities as one’ so therefore, 7tea1.” From there, I was already hooked with the name especially when I’m a huge chai fan myself. Though, the part that made me love what 7tea1 is all about is how it’s founded on the principle of inclusivity. Earlier, I mentioned about teenagers with special needs. According to a study, the employment rate of people with disability in Malaysia is usually characterised as low but 7tea1 aims to change that. This organisation is working to make a difference in the lives of teenagers and young adults with disabilities (often from B40 income families or single parent families) by providing them with job opportunities, vocational training, and a means of earning a decent life.
Their center is currently located in Bandar Setia Alam, Shah Alam. Teenagers typically come in to learn a variety of skills, including motor skills such as cutting, washing, cooking, and packaging, as well as social living skills such as how to operate in a team atmosphere, leadership, and communication. All of the abilities they’ve learned and been taught in help them create the products they sell at their center and online.
Not only the youngsters learn but they’ve also taught the organisers to be more patient, persistent, and humble. They’re always looking for new and better ways to train people as well as strategies to keep their social enterprise afloat.
Despite the difficulties they had during this difficult period, which we like to refer to as the pandemic, they were able to achieve great achievements, which they proudly display on their website. Being awarded for The STAR Golden Heart Award and Anugerah Personaliti Industri & Usahawan Malaysia in 2020 are impressive but for them, overcoming the challenges in 2020 was already a major accomplishment, since they met their objectives and even opened a new center. Huge props to them!
It’s incredible to read about how 7tea1 has impacted the lives of many teenagers, including one where the organisers stated that all of the parents of the teenagers who came to the center to learn are extremely grateful for how they can see the changes in their children, such as their children becoming more independent and able to contribute financially to their family household. Some even managed to get transferred to higher-paying jobs. It also encourages everyone at 7tea1 to keep going and keep giving. One incident that really touched my heart was about an older brother who came to work at their center, and when the pandemic hit, he was able to save enough money to buy his younger brother a laptop so that he could attend online-distance learning at home.
Something I would like to pass onto the readers is that their center isn’t only a place for them to come for training and gaining income but it’s considered as a sanctuary of hope and joy. According to the organisers, “everyone participating is treated with the utmost decency,” and “parents have created a close support system among themselves.” Hopefully, this is enough to show you how we should lend immense support for organizations like 7tea1. What we can do as the public is to buy and support their products which you can find available on their website as well as at their center located in Setia Alam. Doing the little things such as purchasing their products that I’m sure of they’re made with love will bring a difference and awareness to others around us. Corporate companies can also lend a helping hand by sending employment opportunities to these passionate teenagers, ensuring a long-term and consistent impact in making professional opportunities for unique teenagers a reality. Like I’ve mentioned, 7tea1 is the future that we want to see.
Check out their website to shop online for their handmade products. Products like herbal tea infusions, almond cranberries biscotti, various flavoured cookies, pineapple tarts and even soap are available to purchase! Donating a meal for them to give to the needy around Kg Subang and Pandamaran areas is also a possibility.