I met Stevens and his team when I first visited Kuala Lumpur, to train the team of exhibition guides with visual disability for the opening of the exhibition. I experienced kind of a cultural shock as a Latin-American in Malaysia. But Stevens and his team made me feel at home with their warm care.
Since that time, Stevens has become into a very well-known activists for the rights of people with disabilities in his country and is recognized as a very active social entrepreneur who has operated four 4 DiD venues.
I spoke to him in the middle of this pandemic to check-in on his continuous activities in Malaysia.
DSE: Last couple of years have been a chaotic time for all, in regard of the health, but also in other areas. You have just closed the 4th DiD exhibition in Malaysia. So, how are you and how is your energy today?
Stevens Chan: Thank God I am still alive and kicking. Although I do admit that me and Kaye – my wife and business partner - are mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. But we press on cos the missions of DiD is bigger and more important than us.
DSE: And how is the team dealing with all this?
SC: The team is sad with DiD Kuala Lumpur’s 4th venue closing and Lynn – a pillar of our team - leaving after 9 years with us. But some of my team members are resilient enough to know that the fight goes on as we all look towards a new beginning for DiD. We all believe that closing is not the end but the beginning of another journey in a long voyage towards building a more inclusive and empathetic society in our nation. And DiD will play a part in this transformation.
DSE: You are never quiet waiting for things to improve. You are rather proactive and resilient. Would you share about your projects during Covid times?
SC: During the Covid lockdowns since 2020 the team has been kept busy learning new skills in managing and operating a Cloud Kitchen for the past year to sustain and keep the Dialogue going. Through this kitchen we sell and promote food via delivery apps.
We are thankful to our supporters and sponsors who has been supporting our kitchen works including sponsoring many of the food for the needy communities. I am proud of the team who has been receptive and working hard for the kitchen project. Last year the team managed to prepare 10,000 meals for the needy communities in Kuala Lumpur.
DSE: I have to tell you are a real phoenix in the Dialogue network and one of the most resilient persons I have ever met. How do you plan to continue?
SC: We just launched our Reset, Rebrand, Relaunch and Reopen campaign for 2022/2023 with a target of opening an all-new inclusive Dialogue Discovery Center by early 2023 prayerfully.
We have just renamed ourselves as DIA i.e Dialogue Includes All and the new Discovery Center will include the Dialogue in Silence, Dialogue with Time and the Casino for communication Games renamed as Dialogue Games Experiences.
We are now actively pitching and seeking for new impact investors to build the DIA Discovery Center in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile to keep the Dialogue going, asides from our Cloud Kitchen, we will also be launching an all-new workshop called Organization Empathy Management in mid-March 2022. This full day workshop is in collaboration with a regional coaching organization. Next to the usual dark workshop experience we will do a debriefing and facilitate an “empathy learning and leading” session as well. Participants will also receive a certificate in Organization Empathy Management from the City & Guilds UK.
DSE: Anything else you want to add?
SC: I thank DSE and all the partners over the past 9 years of friendship. Meeting them and hearing their stories of resilience has always been an energy and inspiring booster for us to press on and to learn from their stories. Thank you DiD friends and may God bless our works.
The interview was held by José "Pepe" Macías for DSE.