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This Kolkata Breakfast Joint Run By Specially-Abled Adults Was Started By Six Caring Mothers

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Sip N Bite – a small, quaint breakfast cafe tucked inside the handicraft boutique Motherland, with its characteristic green, shuttered windows and yellow walls exuding the nostalgic essence of Kolkata, offers something beyond their sumptuous ‘snacks and beverage’ menu. The cafe is completely managed by specially-abled adults, each of whom partakes in the nitty-gritty of running a successful venture – right from baking fabulous cupcakes to tabulating the days’ profits in the accounts log. While society might not have been proactive in integrating them in the mainstream, their mothers have joined hands to launch this beautiful breakfast joint to provide them with permanent employment and a dignified professional identity.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

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Sip N Bite is managed by a team of 16 special adults

Inside the cafe, 16 young men and women can be spotted cooking in the kitchen, serving hungry customers with an amiable smile or diligently calculating the bills. Their expertise and sincerity are sure to evoke awe, more so when someone learns that they have been diagnosed with Autism, Down’s Syndrome and other cognitive challenges. Genetic anomalies might have posed multiple obstacles throughout their lives, but have failed to dampen their soaring spirits.

The team of sixteen adults currently employed at Sip N Bite were all trainees at Transcendent Knowledge Society at one point, a skill development centre for special youngsters founded by Amrita Roy Chowdhury, a dynamic mother.

The mothers who started it all

“We offered a wide range of skill-based training at our centre. But, soon, the parents realised that the present scenario curtails their career prospects up to the training only. There is very less opportunity available for these youngsters to put their training to use in a professional setup and earn through it. We thought, why don’t we start something for them?” shares Amrita, in a conversation with Efforts For Good.

In collaboration with South Kolkata Parashmani, a parent-run organisation for their special children, Amrita and a group of five mothers started Sip N Bite at 13A, Lake Road, Kolkata last year – inside a handicrafts store. The cute and catchy name of the place was suggested by the group of workers themselves.

Aside from the outlet, Sip N Bite also puts up kiosks and stalls at corporate premises on special requests.

“Twenty chefs rejected our invite to train the employees”

Amrita recalls, “We never imagined that our youngsters would work so devotedly and with such perfection. These people were initially trained according to their passion, their communication skills and their grasping abilities. Before starting the cafe, we selected 16 of our best performers and invited professional chefs to train them. Twenty chefs rejected us upfront, one after another, for one reason or the other. Finally, the 21st and 22nd chefs graciously welcomed our students and mentored them for months. After a successful pilot project, we inaugurated the cafe finally in 2018.”

Food is the primary (and only) focus

All the workers at Sip N Bite are adults, aged between 20 and 40 years. A few of them were proud first-time voters in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. Amrita admits that the work has helped them evolve immensely. “They have had incredible personal growth,” she reiterates.

The employees work on a shift basis which entitles one to work for not more than four to five hours a day. A few of their mothers also assist them in the daily kitchen and counter chores.

“Our primary and exclusive focus is the food and only the food. We never ever portray the disabilities of our workers, rather we promote the exemplary breakfast platters cooked by them. And, I would admit that the response has been amazing from our customers. People keep coming back over and over again to enjoy the food in our soothing ambience,” shares Amrita.

The strategic location of the cafe near the morning walkers’ hub has been a boon for Sip N Bite, as hordes of young and old walkers keep pouring in for having a hearty meal and interacting with the amazing youngsters working there.

The baking skills of the Sip N Bite employees have been so widely acclaimed that the franchise is willing to launch their mobile bakery van soon.

Buying a mobile phone with first salary

Sip N Bite was started with the main aim of economically and socially rehabilitating special individuals. “Even today, there is a subtle sense of sympathy for many special individuals, often from their own extended families. But, here, they have become full-time professionals like every other adult and their families could not be more proud,” narrates Amrita.

However, the happiness of the employees overwhelms everything else. One of them purchased a mobile phone with his first salary, while another shyly expressed his desire to have a girlfriend, now that he has a stable job in life.

For the first-time voters in the team, it was exhilarating to go to the polling booth and stand in a queue – as equal as every citizen of India. One of the voters posted on her Facebook wall how happy she feels after ‘executing her democratic right’. This is exactly where lies the success of Sip N Bite mentor team – to help them grow as individuals and stand on their own feet in every aspect of the phrase.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
2,00,000 meals served

KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

95,39,369 Raised
Out of 1,00,00,000

Share

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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