Published: 12th September 2018
This Kolkata cafe is entirely run by teens living with HIV. How's that for positivity?
Cafe Positive is an enterprise operated and maintained by ten youngsters who are HIV positive and it encourages conversations and add — to help change the mindset
Would you eat food served by a person who has HIV? That's a question that would make pretty much anyone squirm, but if you were at Kolkata's Cafe Positive — an eatery operated and maintained by ten youngsters who are HIV positive — the answer should and would be a resounding 'yes'.
Despite searching for six months, the teenagers couldn't find a suitable place for the cafe, until they stumbled upon a garage in the posh South Kolkata area. What fascinates is the gesture by the owner of the garage where the cafe is functioning now. An honorary member of the Rotary Club of Kolkata, Indrajyoti Dasgupta offered his parking space when he found out about their ordeal. The cafe started functioning in July.
The café provides an ambience that encourages discussion, a hygienically clean environment and a healthy, delectable, but an affordable menu. Besides being run by 'positive' people, Calcuttans are given the freedom to positively discuss any issue — be it politics, sports, culture or development; the key word being 'positive'.
Serving positivity: With Cafe Positive people will start understanding that individuals living with HIV can be a part of any profession
The Café Positive initiative emerged from Anandaghar, a project launched by Organisation for Friends, Energies & Resources (OFFER), a non-profit organisation that has been working for over three decades for the care and protection of children with difficult circumstances. Anandaghar is their brainchild — a home for orphaned children who are HIV positive. "The youth of Anandaghar have undertaken various professions and professional training to be self-sufficient. Some are pursuing a career in the tech line, others have opted for careers in dance therapy, fine arts and dress-making. There have been several unfortunate instances where they were inducted into a job and then let go when the authorities came to know about their HIV positive status. That's why we wanted to do something that would help them to be self-sufficient and earn a livelihood," says Kallol Ghosh, founder of Cafe Positive.
Providing livelihood: Cafe Positive helps teens living with HIV to be self-sufficient
But in addition to self-sufficiency, what Cafe Positive provides is awareness. By learning about this initiative, people will start understanding that individuals living with HIV can be a part of any profession. And that the means of transmission of HIV is limited and can be avoided with very specific practices. Currently, ten members are working at the cafe work on a rotation basis. The youngest one is 18 and the oldest, 20.
"Cafe Positive is already getting offers to expand the concept in different locations around the city. With the eventual expansion, these teenagers will take more responsibilities in the operations and management of the cafe. In addition, they can pursue their career in other establishments of the Food and Beverage industry too," concludes Kallol.