There must be a reason as to why Kolkata is called the “city of joy”.

Perhaps, it could be because that even those who are down on their luck, the depressed and the oppressed, those who have given up their lives find in it something so inspiring as to ‘begin again.’ You come to Kolkata and you immerse yourself in the happy go lucky and unassuming nature of a city truly magnanimous in its spirit.

How else would one describe Kolkata, often depicted through a remorseful lens that only chooses to highlight the city through poverty and the plight of the downtrodden?

Perhaps, nothing could pay a better homage to the city than the fighting spirit and courage of a group of youngsters afflicted with HIV positive, that despite the immense physical discomfort, managed to run a cafe of their own.

You heard it right and you perceived it correctly too. A group of teenagers residing in Kolkata have begun with a whole lot of grit and temerity- the cafe positive. But it wouldn’t have been there today, nestled in the heart of the city of joy had it not been for the immensity of spirit and support of a very kind man. It is because of an individual’s support that the youngsters battling with HIV were able to kickstart their passion.

It was thanks to the efforts of Mr Indrajyoti Dasgupta, who happens to be an honorary member of Rotary Club of Kolkata, that the youngsters got a space to run their cafe. Here’s what exactly had happened.

The group of youngsters, whose task is to run the accounts, serve customers and clean the tables at Cafe Positive, in Kolkata, had not been able to figure out space in the city despite searching for one in past six months. This is when their paths crossed with Mr Dasgupta, who instantly agreed to offer them a space to run their own cafe and thus, chart their own path in entrepreneurship. And that is not all that happened.

Had it not been for the excellent and timely efforts of a not-for-profit OFFER, that willingly extended the training required to become professional chefs, the members running Cafe Positive may never have been able to commence their work. The founder of Cafe Positive, Kallol Ghosh, recently shared, that while the youngsters will be entrusted with the task of running the cafe’s accounts and serving the customers, they will be supported with professional chefs to aid them in the kitchen.

 

Standing true to the principle of “it takes all kinds to complete the rainbow,” it could be said, had it not been for the combined tapestry of the many hands (read talents) behind Cafe Unique- one may never have been able to see such an inspiring force stand on its own legs.

The NGO Offer’s role, in the establishment of Cafe Positive, is just as important as the precious help extended by Mr Dasgupta. For months together, the not for profit interacted with the teenagers helped them pick up a few culinary and administrative skills and, in turn, prepared them to take ownership of their own destiny. That said, the heroes of the lot are the group of 10 youngsters who’ve leapfrogged their physical anomaly to start their own journey.

Here’s what might break your heart. When they discovered that the children had developed HIV positive, none of the family members of the youngsters accepted them. They were, in fact, abandoned and left to perish under the fate of the condition. From being completely disowned to beginning something of their own- is an onerous journey and an exercise is self-upliftment, something that no educational institute, book or anything else for that matter may be able to impart.

The NGO Offer gave the group of ten, a shelter at Anadnaghar and today, in the bustle of a dynamic city, tucked in the heart of Jodhpur Park is, Cafe Unique, that is to begin operations from July 14.

In the words of Mr Indrajyto Dasgupta, who helped the lot in giving them a space to run their cafe, the following stood out, “I was initially a bit hesitant to offer my garage space as it is much smaller than what they were looking for. But after learning that they had failed to manage any space for over six months, I told them to start their business from here. This can be the beginning from where they can spread their wings. I am happy to be a part of this noble initiative.”

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