Free Press Journal

Soon, Mumbai to have a cafe that will be run by autistic youth


Mumbai: After the success of a few prominent cafes and a leading retail store that have hired physically challenged workers, a Non-Governmental Organisation in Mumbai has gone a step further and given a different future for people with autistism and Down Syndrome (DS) in Mumbai.

A tiffin service on lines of Mumbai’s famous ‘dabbawalas’ is what Yash Charitable Trust (YCT) has strived to offer. The venture called ‘Arpan’ for the autistic and DS people delivers self-cooked nutritious home-cooked meals. Meals are prepared by these adults, giving them financial ability to live on their own.

As the world celebrated Mental Health Day on October 10, with the help of YCT  twelve autistic youth are now gearing up to start the first-ever cafe in the city which will be run by autistic individuals. “Most people presume that adults with developmental disabilities cannot work or earn and be as self-sustaining as other adults, and are of the idea that they must be admitted to healthcare centres. However, we believe that they must be treated inclusively,” said Ashaita Mahajan, manager of the trust.

Mahajan further stated Arpan has proved that the people who work there today have a strong work ethic, can learn to do things like cook, play an instrument and use a computer. “Two years before dabba service was started. We also trained them how to cook and buy grocery and they handle everything very fast,” added Mahajan.

Mahajan said that before these people used to stay at home and were not able to interact with anyone due to the disorder. But now they have built so much confidence in themselves that it feels like they are actually working like a normal people. She added that they are enthusiastic about their work. Some are good at peeling and cutting, some prefer packing, some enjoy cooking. Everybody has a role they love and everybody loves to deliver food as they get to meet new people.

They work for seven hours a day in a makeover kitchen which has become their second home. “They are one family now where they celebrate their birthday and festivals. Moreover, it has helped them to overcome their cocoon,” added Mahajan. To bring more number of people, they have decided to start a cafeteria. For the construction of the cafe, they need around Rs10 lakhs for which they have started crowdfunding through impact guru and have raised Rs 7.49 lakhs.