Today is World AIDS Day, and the slogan of the UN this year for HIV/AIDS is ‘Know Your Status’. There is a famous quote by APJ Abdul Kalam that “We should not give up and we should not allow the problem to defeat us.”
India’ s first cafe that is run by HIV positive youths is set up at the city of joy Calcutta. It is indeed a great initiative taken by Mr. Kallol Ghosh, founder of ANANDAGHAR, a shelter for HIV positive youths. Mr. Ghosh is the owner and mastermind behind Cafe Positive.
“Cafe Positive is a concept; one afternoon when I was sitting with the youths decided to open a startup coffee shop as humanity runs on coffee,” said Mr. Ghosh. The coffee shop is run by six young boys and four girls who have undergone training in baking, sandwich making, cocktail and mocktail making. Stipend of Rs. 6,000 is being given to the youths who are working in the cafe and they are work on shift basis.
“We started searching for prominent locations for our coffee shop in South Calcutta like – Gariahat, Ballygunge, Dover lane, Hindustan Park, Golpark but everyone refused to rent us a space citing ‘problems to be caused by the neighborhood’. One morning, a call came from a friend of mine who was ready to rent his garage space of 120 sq ft. to us for the shop and finally, we were able to set up the shop at Jodhpur Park,” said Mr. Ghosh.
Mr. Ghosh is thinking about opening other outlets of the cafe around the whole city. The shop was inaugurated on the holy day of Rathyatra this month. Celebrities like Abir Chatterjee, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Mir Afsar Ali visited Cafe Positive and spent good times with the youths over coffee.
“This is a positive initiative taken by ANANDAGHAR and the taboo or superstitions will be removed from the society if we support the youth and help them grow,” said Mr. Paritosh Paul, the renowned journalist.
“We thought that our dreams will not come true as the things were not going in a proper way. I came to know about the disease from childhood and but I never gave up. I lost my father in childhood as he was suffering from Tuberculosis,” said Sweta Banik (name changed), a madhyamik student and a resident of ANANDAGHAR who is working at Cafe Positive.
“We will give our best and will try to remove the wrong thought and myths about HIV Positive from the minds of common people,” said Aakash Sharma (name changed) a youth working in the cafe.