Kolkata: In a first, 10 HIV positive teenagers in Kolkata opened a cafe at a garage in Jodhpur Park. Cafe Positive is a unique venture by a group of youth who proved that they too can do something different overcoming the stigma of society.
These teens got united at a shelter home in Baruipur after they were abandoned by their parents and acquaintances. They have been initially funded by the shelter home 'Offer'.
" We were one day discussing their future, they gave this idea that since they were learning skill training bakery they want to have their own cafe. But things were not easy to get a place where HIV positive patients can open up a cafe. It often happened that even after the final contract for some space the owner used to say neighbours will be uncomfortable with HIV positive patients taking that space ."
At last one person helped them with a garage space which is 120 sqft and finally now Cafe Positive started there.
Dipa Biswas came in the Baruipur home at the age of five. She tried to go to school but stood outside her classroom most of the days as she is HIV positive. Dipa wanted to come out of this stigma.
"We are not untouchables, you will not have Aids if we make tea coffee for you, people should understand that. "
Sonia Theda used to stay in Mumbai. Her mother was an HIV carrier. It was after her mother died, Sonia was brought to Kolkata. Sonia said, "We will work hard and show people that we too can do it."
From Cappuccino to grilled sandwich, everything is made available at Cafe Positive. The dishes are prepared by these teens and they offer these in an affordable price.
Visitors also pour in here and they too are inspired by these positive teens. A visitor, Soma Dasgupta said, "It feels great to see them in the role of entrepreneur. Their behaviour compels me to come here very often."
Even though it was initially difficult for them to get a place, these teens have set an example for other people like them who are HIV positive and find it difficult to live a normal life.