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Cafe Positive, Asia’s First Coffee Shop Run Entirely By HIV Positive Youngsters

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A 12 feet X 10 feet beacon of hope sprouted in the heart of Kolkata, in the form of Cafe Positive – Asia’s first coffee shop run entirely by a group of HIV-positive youngsters. Located in the prime location of Jodhpur Park in South Kolkata, the shop aims to dilute the stigma of HIV lurking in the minds of people. At the same time, it is determined to set an example for other HIV-positive individuals to come together and be independent, both financially and socially. The cafe is the brainchild of Kallol Ghosh, a social entrepreneur working with the United Nations.

Kallol Ghosh (left)

The Background Story

‘Offer’ is a well-known NGO in Bengal with one of their urban centres, Anondoghor, solely dedicated to housing orphan children who are HIV-positive. Anondoghor (The House of Joy), at present, is home to 75 orphan children and teenagers.

Around four years ago, the Government of Japan installed a bakery unit in the organisation campus, complete with high-quality equipments and ingredients. Around ten teenagers were assembled to form a self-help group where they were professionally trained to use the bakery unit to prepare delicious baked goods.

Delicious cakes at Cafe Positive

However, some negative comments surfaced soon, with a few people expressing concern that the children cannot be kept in the orphanage beyond eighteen years and they would not be accepted in the mainstream society to earn a decent livelihood.

This led Mr Ghosh to chalk out a detailed plan to start a business venture for these kids once they turn 18, which finally culminated in Cafe Positive.

The group, guided by Mr Ghosh, struggled hard for six months to rent a plot for starting their dream coffee shop. People would close doors on their faces the moment their HIV positive status was revealed. Others would put up excuses like even if they were okay with it, their family or neighbours would be displeased. None of them co-operated with even an inch of space until finally, one gentleman agreed graciously to lend his small garage space. A display shelf, a semi-automatic coffee machine and a few chairs and tables were arranged. The interiors were decorated in accordance with the positive vibrancy that these youngsters wished to spread. Thus Cafe Positive was born and opened for public on 14th July 2018.

“Coffee is an indispensable part of our social life. People bond over coffee. So our vision was to use coffee as the medium to create awareness among people that HIV-AIDS is just another viral infection.” Mr Ghosh elaborates.

He believes that if people drink coffee and eat food prepared by the HIV-positive workers, they can show the world that HIV is nothing but an age-old myth fed by our misconceptions. HIV-positive people are in no way different from everyone else, and they are an integral part of our society.

Mr. P.C Sen, the founding member of Peerless at Cafe Positive

On the other hand, due to extreme discrimination, the HIV-positive people are mostly left traumatised. Cafe Positive also wishes to extend their hand to those sufferers who are afraid to step into the social limelight, by giving them skill-based training and encouragement.

Cafe Positive features freshly brewed Lavazza coffee and the Bengal’s favourite Cha (tea) on their menu along with everyday favourites like muffins, cookies and sandwiches.

All The Workers Are Professionally Trained

Aside from their flawless baking skills, the ten workers are also experts in managing and operating the cafe all on their own. They work in three teams entitled to the tasks of preparing the food, management and service to the customers, respectively. The management and procuring team has received three months of certificate business management training. After that, they were placed as interns at two other notable restaurants in Kolkata – Travelistan and Snackings.

Response So Far & Future Plans

“The people of Kolkata have warm-heartedly welcomed us”, asserts Mr Ghosh, who counts at least 35 to 50 footfalls every day in their small cafe. Their unique venture has featured in the pages of international newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post and almost all national newspapers. BBC and CNN have also covered the Cafe Positive story – which has inspired the workers to continue their sincere efforts.

In the next few years, plans are there to expand the cafe with seating provisions for around 30-40 customers together.

 

Coffee Without Boundaries

The tagline of Cafe Positive on their menu chart reads “Coffee for a cause.” “We wish to invite everyone to Cafe Positive. Please come and enjoy our coffee without boundaries.” Mr Ghosh appeals to our readers. He strongly believes that all marginalised people have every right to be a part of our society. It is the duty of the educated people like us to welcome them with open arms.

Also Read:  At Goa’s First All-purpose Zero-Waste Store, You Can Buy Anything Without Plastic & Other Wasteful Packaging

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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.
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19,200 Raised
Out of 20,00,000

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Out of 20,00,000

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Providing Clothes To Tribal Children

1,11,860 Raised
Out of 9,00,000

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Out of 15,00,000

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1,04,887 Raised
Out of 10,00,000

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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