The bright yellow truck with a logo of a pair of spectacles perched over a luxurious moustache looks like many other food trucks that attract hungry students at a college in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
However, when giving their order, the students begin signalling with their hands, indicating this is not an ordinary food truck.
The Abey Khao, which translates to “The Eat Guys”, food truck is Pakistan’s first mobile restaurant staffed entirely by deaf workers, providing them an economic opportunity.
The food truck is the brainchild of hearing impaired family, with both parents and their two sons who are either totally or partially deaf.
However, daughter Ayesha Raza can hear and she came up with the idea for Abey Khao to give opportunities for her brothers.
“The majority of the deaf youth is unemployed in Pakistan, and they face issues like language barriers, inequality and discrimination,” she said. “At Abey Khao, customers embrace deaf culture and place their orders in sign language.”
With diagrams showing how to say simple phrases in sign language, the food truck is not only providing employment but helping to bridge communication gaps between deaf people and the hearing community, she said.
“We should create our own path through entrepreneurship, no matter how small it is, because we value our dignity as independent living beings more than anything else,” said Sheikh Faizan, Ayesha’s brother, using sign language.
Parked on the campus of Millennium Universal College, students gather for sizzling meat sandwiches and french fries, signalling their orders with their hands.
“Normally, whenever we meet anyone who is deaf, we don’t know how to communicate with them. They have placed a cue card here in front of their van which is very helpful for everyone when we want to place an order,” said student Misal Shahzad.