The future of the popular Brownies & Downies coffee shop and lunchtime venue at the top of Long Street in Cape Town’s CBD is hanging in the balance as its Dutch co-owner, Wendy Schultz, has been barred from re-entering South Africa due to a slip-up with her paperwork at the Department of Home Affairs. Consequently, she has been banned from South Africa for 5 years.
Speaking from the Netherlands, Wendy passionately expresses how Brownies & Downies, a restaurant which she runs with her husband, Wade, has made a huge difference in the lives of young people with Downs Syndrome.
“Essentially, Brownies & Downies runs a training programme where young people with special needs are taught culinary skills so that they are empowered, can have a sense of purpose, and can contribute meaningfully to society”, she says.
“I have battled in an appeals process spanning close on two years to sort out my paperwork with the Department of Home Affairs, but seem to hit one snag after the other. Apart from wishing to be reunited with my husband, Brownies & Downies needs me back in South Africa to continue the work that we have started”, said Wendy.
The training programme has seen the successful integration of 12 people with intellectual disabilities into work environments, with 7 awaiting Wendy’s return so that they may be placed.
The couple is inundated with calls from special needs schools as well as families with special needs children around the country to start similar initiatives in other parts of South Africa because of the successes achieved in Cape Town.
The impending closure of Brownies & Downies will not only impact the many young people who are benefitting from the programme, but trainers and other support staff face the prospect of losing their jobs too.
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