At first glance, the Crust & Core café, located in a lane adjacent to Chetla Police Station in Kolkata, is a usual patisserie serving tasty treats.
However, this café has a mission, and it is not just one that involves serving you great food. According to The Telegraph, the goal of this café is to help and employ women who have battled severe mental health issues and psycho-social disabilities.
Take the case of 21-year-old Haripriya Haripriya, who until a year ago, was in terrible distress, unable to come to terms with her inner turmoil. Found by a police team on a bench near New Market, she didn’t know what to do and had no idea where the next moment would take her. Upon further questioning by the police, it turned out that the young woman was abandoned by her uncle who had brought her to Kolkata from Maharashtra.
Today, Haripriya is a member of the team at Crust & Core. She is passionate about baking and is excited about her future.
Just like her, 11 other women battling depression, schizophrenia and other mental health issues, have found happiness working at Crust & Core, which opened in February 2018.
The café operates with the support of the NGO, Iswar Sankalpa, and employs inmates of the Chetla shelter of the NGO. According to NGO’s assistant secretary, Rinku Soni, 90% of the women in the shelter have psycho-social disabilities.
Rinku mentions that professional chefs trained 22 women for a year before the project started. While some lacked confidence, ten even opted out midway. It is evident that the ones who completed the training are leading slightly better lives now and liking the work.
Everyone involved with the café is working for the cause. The company that helped create the interiors is headed by activist and entrepreneur Mudar Patherya, who speaks of the café as a heroic venture, which gives many lives a new direction.
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Nibble on pastries, pasta and an assortment of savouries that can also be ordered online. Closed only on Mondays, Crust & Core serves customers from 1:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m on other days. The women work at their own pace, and quite heartening, that they enjoy what they do, according to the NGO’s secretary and co-founder, Sarbani Das Roy.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)