Café Positive is a unique initiative taken up by OFFER. It is the culmination of a dream that 10 HIV-positive teenagers had.
A report in The Times of India says the 12 X 10 ft garage at Jodhpur Park was finalised after a six-month search in some of south Kolkata’s posh localities yielded a straightaway “no” from house-owners when they learnt about who will manage and run the shop.
These ten teenagers were abandoned by their families when they found out that they were all HIV-positive. Offer gave them shelter in Anandaghar, a home for HIV-positive people in the Gobindapur area. They were also imparted with professional training through workshops to become chefs.
The HIV-positive people will only maintain accounts, serve customers and clean tables. The kitchen will have hired cooks. It will also have glass walls so that customers can have a clear view of how food and beverages are being prepared. Moreover, only disposable utensils will be used in Café- Positive.
The owner of the garage, Indrajyoti Dasgupta, an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Kolkata, offered his space when he found out that the teenagers were unable to find an appropriate space despite a search for more than six months.
Indrajyoti was initially a bit hesitant to offer his garage space as it is much smaller than what they were looking for. But after learning that they had failed to manage any space in over six months, he told them to start their business from here as this can be the beginning from where they can spread their wings and is very happy to be a part of this noble initiative.
I take this opportunity to thank you for sharing journey with me. 14 years ago, I was moved to find an infant abandoned in a dumpster due to his HIV +ve status. I and my colleagues came forward to provide him shelter and care. At that time, I never imagined this infant will transform my life. 14 years down the road, after numerous controversies, non-cooperation and victimization, I can say that the journey was worth travelling. And the journey was possible due to you. Your involvement and support made me believe that this world has people who care.
I am excited to inform you that youth from Anandaghar, our initiative for care and protection of HIV +ve children in difficult circumstances, will be starting a new voyage. On July 14th, 2018 (Saturday) afternoon, they are starting a small cafe. “Cafe positive” as the cafe is anointed, will be the first cafe in entire Asia run and operated solely by people living with HIV. The cafe will act as an income generation source for these youth, while inspiring a positive conversation regarding people infected and suffering from HIV.
I am thankful to the people of Kolkata, who have broken the taboo, and made the initiative their own by showing support. While the support has resulted in inception of this idea of “ starting a conversation about HIV over a coffee”; we will need everyone’s support to continue this unique movement to thrive and spread all over the country.
As I thank you, for being a significant part of my journey, I hope you will accompany, mentor and support these young aspiring entrepreneurs in their expedition.
Feeling like a proud father,