Cafe Positive is Asia’s first Cafe run solely by a bunch of HIV-positive youngsters in South Kolkata. They aim to cut back the stigma of HIV and set an example for other HIV-positive individuals to be independent, financially, and socially.
Kallol Ghosh, the brains behind Cafe Positive, had his brief stint with the Ministry of Human Resources Development and the UN. The experiences had shaped him to do something for HIV Infected individuals. He started an organisation under the name OFFER with his savings and funds collected from his friends. It is a youngster driven organization that protects those dismissed by society after contracting HIV/AIDS. OFFER runs a child care home that havens the young ones who contract the virus. When they turn above 18, they are trained to be an effective employee of the cafe that serves delicious meals to the guests.
Kallol is their guardian angel. Some address him as ‘father’, and others call him uncle. The employees of Cafe Positive are kept in an aftercare home about a kilometre far from the Cafe. Since they are over 18, they cannot live in a Child Care Home. Hence an additional separate residential arrangement is made so that they do not end up on the streets again.
The start, however, was not easy. It took six months to find a suitable land as many property owners turned Ghosh away after finding that the Cafe would employ HIV-positive individuals. But after much hustle, he found a garage at Jodhpur Park in Kolkata. The Cafe has been a success ever since. In the last two years, it has been well accepted by everyone. Mainly the customers are the young ones, which holds up to 80%. The customers walk in with the expectation of a beautiful gastronomical journey. Cafe Positive has celebrated customer-specific events like birthdays, marriage, book launch, and anniversaries. The Cafe has even hosted Bengal’s most loved cricketer Sourav Ganguly, and also Virat Kohli, the current captain of the Indian cricket team.
All kinds of future assurances like Provident Funds, Gratuity, bonus apart from medical benefits are provided to the employees. It is an initiative to secure the future of these kids. Ghosh is even trying to acquire for them to take care of their medical requirements insurance. A lot of work on which, however, still needs to be done. Ghosh mentions how the Samaritans of the society have come forward till now to extend their generous support.
Ghosh and team have a very ambitious plan and are happy to share that from September they will be running their first signature cafe unit in South Kolkata, which got a little delayed due to pandemic. They have space in the big shopping malls in Kolkata to start the chain and plan to open some Kiosks. But the most significant plan is to create 30 to 35 units pan India with young adults who will be absorbed into a life of dignity. He is in touch with organizations and companies who are interested in their initiative. He and his team are optimistic about this plan to take shape soon in a year and a half. These kids are not unimportant or deprived anymore. They get to study, work, play and enjoy as everyone does. However, all they demand is their due dignity. Which is rightfully given to them. A kind man’s strong vision can never be moved, Kallol Ghosh has effectively proven us just that.