Coffee school helps Bettr people’s lives

Bettr Barista

It was a major career switch for Madam Chetra Doraisamy, 45 – from cleaning offices and hospitals for about 30 years, to brewing speciality coffee at cafes.

“I wanted to change my life,” said the mother of four.

She was struggling with low self-esteem and going through a divorce when she was referred to Bettr Barista by a social worker at her church in February.

The coffee academy was named Social Enterprise Start-up of the Year at yesterday’s President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Award ceremony, which is now into its second year.

Besides teaching coffee-making, the academy also helps at-risk youth and women from disadvantaged backgrounds with emotional management and physical skills training such as self-defence and yoga.

For Madam Chetra, Bettr Barista has made a difference in her life in several ways.

After her eight-week internship at French eatery Saybons in Aljunied earlier this year, she was offered a full-time job there.

Last month, she was promoted to manager, and now earns about 11/2 times what she did as a cleaner. She has also gained more self-esteem.

“Last time, I was very dependent on people. Now, I’m more confident,” she said.

She hopes to help others like herself. “There could be other Chetras hiding somewhere. I hope they’d be willing to come out and I want to help them.”

Bettr Barista’s 37-year-old founder Pamela Chng, pointing to Madam Chetra, said: “These guys keep me going. They were so shy when they started, they couldn’t have a conversation with anybody. But now they’re holding down jobs, getting promoted, talking to you – which shows how well they’re doing.”

Edited from an article from The Straits Times, 21 December 2013

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