HIV, Dr Kallol Ghosh’s ‘Cafe Positive,’ which began in a 100-square-foot garage in Jodhpur Park in 2018, recently changed addresses and relocated to a larger space in Ballygunge to accommodate the “increasing rush of customers.”
The seven teenagers do everything from preparing coffee, fish and chips, and sandwiches to serving them to customers.
Ghosh, who claimed that this was Asia’s first such cafe, told PTI on Monday, “Our regular customers have no reservations about visiting a location run by HIV-positive people. We give every visitor a leaflet with all of the cafe’s information.” “The majority of them say they don’t have a problem, but some still leave. People in their twenties are open and forward-thinking. It is important to remember that HIV does not spread like other contagious diseases “He stated.
Ghosh, who runs an NGO for HIV-positive children, recalled how difficult it was to find a location for the cafe in the beginning, but after some persuasion, the landlord of a standalone building in Jodhpur agreed to rent out the garage to him.
“However, some of our neighbours objected to our venture, claiming that the garbage generated by our cafe could spread AIDS in the area. Remember, this was an upscale neighbourhood in South Kolkata “He stated. “It was a difficult battle, but the city never gave up. Our new Ballygunge address now attracts a diverse range of Kolkatans, including young professionals, students, executives, homemakers, and even celebrities. This new address has more space and can handle the traffic better “He stated.
Ghosh stated that the initiative enabled HIV-positive teenagers who contracted the virus through no fault of their own to earn a living while keeping their heads held high.
“The cafe was closed during the lockdown. Patrons, on the other hand, returned shortly after the restrictions were lifted. During the shutdown, the NGO looked after the seven employees “According to Ghosh.
He also stated that ‘Cafe Positive’ locations will open in four city shopping malls in the coming days.
According to an 18-year-old youth serving pasta to a group of customers, “We are no different than anyone else and should not be treated as outcasts. Sidhu da (Siddhartha Ray) of the ‘Cactus’ band paid us several visits and encouraged us to keep working hard. We appreciate the city’s acceptance of this cafe.”