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India’s First Non-Profit Café where the employees are either rescued or victims of human trafficking! – GetBengal story

6 March, 2024 10:30:49
India’s First Non-Profit Café where the employees are either rescued or victims of human trafficking! – GetBengal story

Opportunity Café, India’s First Non-Profit Café, DumDum, Kolkata

Hard to believe right? We usually associate cafes with profit-making businesses, huge franchises and capitalist mindsets. However, India’s first non-profit café is here in town, founded by Sumanta Singha Ray and Siddhant Ghosh. This café is an outlet of the Relief and Rescue Foundation, which rescues differently-abled homeless children, trafficked victims, POSCO girls and other destitute children. These rescued children are raised in homes provided by the foundation all over India, with their main base being in Kolkata. This café was formed to employ those rescued children who were unable to perform academically so that they could stand on their own feet when others turn them out.

The café is located near Dum Dum railway station and has a very soothing and aesthetic interior. They offer a wide range of food starting from pizzas to cakes and pastries. Sumanta Singha Ray personally recommends pizzas since there is a wide variety to choose from- both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. There is also an open mic called ‘Adda Baji’ held every week, which features many artists who come and sing for the crowd as well as musically gifted workers in the café itself. Many of these are telecast live on their Instagram page. The story behind the opening of the café is interesting. 

Relief and Rescue Foundation has homes that shelter destitute, specially-abled children, trafficked and abused victims, and problems arose from these homes when these rescued children were forced to move out when they turned eighteen. Many are rescued at the age of 16, or 17 and having just a year in hand makes it difficult to help them sufficiently or even educate them that would help them in the future to earn a living. “This was a big problem and the solution to which was the café. Many of the rescued children are academically gifted and even two POSCO girls have done honours in Law. However, there are again those who are unable to cope with academics and have other inclinations. Some are also psychologically affected, making it harder for them to engage in healthy social relationships, especially for autistic children since there is a range of symptoms in the autism spectrum and they are not understood properly by the rest of the society,” said Singha Ray to GB. 

Sumanta Singha Ray, one of the founders of Opportunity Café


This café was opened to give these children a chance at being financially independent and find some gainful employment. The idea of the café was thought of in 2022. Children who are not academically gifted are given training in areas such as cooking, serving, waiting tables, etc. and they are employed according to their strengths. This training is given after they become adults and despite growing up, Singha Ray still calls them “children” lovingly as he has a deep, personal relationship with the rescued victims. There are even counsellors present in the café to assist the specially-abled workers in case they are unable to regulate their emotions or cannot handle being under pressure. It took two years for him to start the café, with it opening on 23rd January 2024.

The good cause for this café extends even further when Singha Ray informs that “The first floor of my office building has been turned into a wonderful café with beautiful and aesthetic interiors while the upper floors have been turned into staying quarters for the workers.” The non-profit aspect of this is that the profits are used as salaries for the workers and are also used for the improvement of homes across India, betterment of the children and increasing their reach all over India. None of the profits go into the founders’ pockets. It goes back to the café, workers and the NGO. There are approximately 1,200 children in the homes and the profits also go for their education and treatment. Not only this NGO started in 2013, but his kindness also extends even further when he informs of the “drop-in” centres for the children of the sex workers. Here they could drop their children off in the morning and pick them back up at night. The children would receive education and help in their studies throughout the day.

There are currently 29,000 donors for this NGO and he wishes to increase his reach even further so that he can save as many children as possible. He also undertakes weekly rescue missions and he has a very special message. He says, “My initiative is with these victims and I aim to spread it all over India. An initiative like this helps countless destitute children and gives them opportunities. The name is thus Opportunity Café, to offer opportunities to such people. “They have seen many bad things happen. Their only good is working here and decently earning a livelihood and getting respect from the society,” adds Singha Ray. This café and the foundation truly make one wonder about the state of those who are homeless and victims of various forms of abuse. A non-profit cafe is rare in a world where capitalism and profits drive a business. In this era, this is a refreshing change to see two people helping people out of their kindness, not their motive to earn back on their investments. Whatever is earned goes back to the betterment of others. This goes to show there is a sliver of hope left that good still exists in mankind.

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