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Diana Ayoo: Meet the Mind Nairobi Restaurant that Hires Staff with Neurological Disorders

Diana Ayoo
Diana Ayoo PHOTO/Africa News

Diana Ayoo is the founder of Ayira’s Neuro Soul Café, offering employment opportunities to people living with cognitive disabilities.

The name of the restaurant is the same as that of Diana’s first born daughter who was diagnosed with a developmental delay condition.

It was during the COVID-19 pandemic period when she decided to start the restaurant, offering a safe haven for people living with disabilities.

Here is Diana’s story as told by EAFeed.

Diana was in the United States when her daughter was diagnosed with a developmental delay condition, Primrose Syndrome.

Primrose Syndrome is a congenital malformation syndrome characterized by intellectual disability, developmental delay, progressive muscle wasting and ear lobe calcification.

While working, Diana would drop her daughter at a daycare at Boston’s Children Hospital which was adjacent to a business that helped people living with disabilities.

She was inspired and started working towards her own business that would be of help to people who are abled differently.

“As a mother and in this part of the world, I know that the neurodivergent are stigmatized and they are not really taken care of. I wanted to show the world that even them, they can be given a chance in society and contribute,” she said.

Ayira’s Neuro Soul Café PHOTO/Google

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Diana set up a cafe with the help of her sister and hired staff with neurological conditions.

Although some people discouraged her from setting up the business, she was determined to make it work, arguing that she would rather fail while trying than abandoning the idea.

Initially, Diana had challenges finding the neuro-diverse employees but she was helped by someone who worked for an organization that catered for them.

“I have many parents wanting for me to employ their children, but there is no space and I always tell them, you know, I cannot take all of them and they come and just sit and idle around, and of course, I won’t be able to pay them because if there is no business

“So, those are some of the things, some of them are even volunteers yet to be paid because the parents say that the fact that she just leaves home and comes to work gives her a meaning. So, there are some of them that I am yet to start paying for,” she said

However, despite the challenges, Diana said she is proud of what she has done, further noting how she has touched the hearts of many.

“What I have noticed is that when people come to the restaurant and when you talk to them and explain to them what we do and who our people are, someone will always say, ‘I have a brother, I had a sister, I have a cousin, I have a niece, I have a neighbour’. So this means that it touches people,” she added.

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