Making a strong brew: Country’s first cafe run by young adults with special needs gets going in Kolkata
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Making a strong brew: Country’s first cafe run by young adults with special needs gets going in Kolkata

The cafe is located near Maddox Square in south Kolkata. The young adults who are engaged here are trained in bakery management.

kolkata Updated: Nov 04, 2017 12:21 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Minu Budhia (extreme left, in white) and Preeyam Budhia (in red) with some of those who would serve you at the cafe.(HT Photo)

It is a cafe that appeals not only to the coffee connoisseur in you but also to your conscience. It’s a cafe with a cause.

Adding to the global list of cafes run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – a trend still in its nascent stage – Kolkata is now home to the country’s first cafe run by young adults with special needs.

Read: Indians have never really understood coffee, but that’s changing

Cafe I.Can.Flyy, which started operation in end-August, offers ‘sheltered workplace’ for young adults who welcome visitors with hearty smiles, place the menu card on the table, take orders and serve as proficiently as they can. Finally, they come for taking feedback.

Adjacent to Maddox Square park in South Kolkata and tucked away from the noisy streets, the cafe presently has seven young adults working there. The cafe serves and sales bakery items and food prepared by another group of special-needs young adults who work under supervision.

“This is a one-of-its-kind initiative in India. Once they finished school, these young adults used to find it difficult to cope with a condition without any engagement. The objective is to help them with meaningful engagement,” said psychotherapist Minu Budhia. The cafe is her brainchild.

Read: Drinking coffee may lead to longer life: study

Mother of a special-needs child, Minu Budhia had nightmares about what the child will do when her schooling ends. This was then that she realised there has to be some opportunity for young individuals with special needs to stay engaged.

“We are hopeful this engagement will help them gather self-esteem and confidence that are absolutely essential for their well-being,” said Preeyam Budhia, elder daughter of Minu Budhia and co-founder of the cafe.

The cafe was launched as an extension of the vocational training institute I.Can.Flyy that began operations in 2015, where young adults are trained in various skills such as data entry on computer, bakery and crafts-making. Those who underwent training at the bakery for six months were placed with the cafe.

Read: The world’s most expensive coffee, made from poop of civet cat, is made in India

“I enjoy working here, very much. I love to work every day,” said Anupriya (name changed), gleefully. She is in her 20s.

The cafe started attracting crowd soon after its launch. Testimonies of visitors on social media and blogs helped spread the word. A collection of board games made the place attractive for children.

“We are full almost every evening and sometimes even in the afternoon. People also book the place for kitty parties and kids’ birthday parties. We already had about 20 private parties over the past couple of months,” Preeyam Budhia told HT.

With more young adults ready to work, the cafe now plans to expand. That will possibly brew dreams for a few more of those needing special care.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 12:21 IST