Tag: Sumon

Shuktara Cakes article in Times of India

Shuktara Cakes in Times of India!

HAVE YOU MET THESE YOUNG SPECIALLY ABLED BAKERS YET?

Jun 19 2017 : The Times of India (Kolkata) - by Amita Ghose

A group of specially abled youngsters are giving city bakers a run for their money

Times of India article about Shuktara Cakes - June 2017

We know it as the morning star - the companion of light that has always held a special place in cultures across the world. And now, the Shuktara is spreading light in a different way - by empowering a group of young, differently abled men who run a bakery by that name in Behala. For these six energetic youngsters, baking is not just a source of livelihood, it's a way of life. And that's exactly what we felt when we met them recently. Read on...

THE SIX MUSKETEERS

The bakery was established in 2013 and is currently run by Raju Das, Bapi Das, Ashok Chhetri, Sanjay Sarkar, Pinku Das and Suman Goswami - all aged between 20 and 30 and inmates of an NGO's residential training centre for differently abled street kids. "Raju, Ashok, Pinku and Sanjay are the oldest employees of the bakery; Bapi joined a bit later and Suman has joined recently. They are given responsibilities in accordance with their abilities and no one is pressurised to do anything; they work at their own pace," said Somnath Sardar, the manager of Shuktara Cakes, who joined the team three and a half years ago.

And it's quite a team. While Sanjay looks after the outdoor work, Pinku, Bapi and Raju take care of the baking and mixing and Ashok and Suman manage the packaging and cleaning.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Nagendra Mishra, the chairman of the NGO that brought the boys up, told us that the bakery was the brainchild of French restaurateur Alain Cojean and pastry chef Fabien Rouillard. He said the latter also trained the boys to bake French specialties. "In just 10 weeks, the boys transformed into amazing bakers! We feel so proud of them. Now we deliver cakes to different cafés and also take special orders. But we deliver only on against advance booking, as we don't want to put too much pressure on the boys," he added.

All the boys are paid salaries in accordance with the importance of their duties and responsibilities. They work between five and six hours every day. "In summer, they work for five hours, as the number of orders is less. They get to work at 8 am sharp and continue till noon or 1 pm. But in winter, especially ahead of Christmas, business picks up and the boys have to work a bit more to meet the increased demand," Somnath told us.

A SLOW RISE

Speaking about the hiccups they had while setting up the bakery, Nagendra told us that the original plan was to set up a cafe. "But we had to step back because of various logistical issues. Moreover, when we opened the bakery , a number of five-star hotels and established hoteliers promised help, but all of them backed out later. Then we thought of delivering cakes against advance orders and thankfully, we now have twothree permanent clients along with party and event orders," he said. "The growth is slow and we're still not making profits, but the smiles on the faces of the boys keep us going. Sanjay is now married and lives in a rented house with his family. We also want the same to happen with the other boys," Nagendra added.

Shuktara Cakes article by the Times of India
Shuktara Cakes article in the Times of India

THE TEAM

Pinku Das
Shuktara Cakes
He has been deaf since birth and became an inmate of the home when he was 10. Pinku, who loves maths and drawing architectural designs, is known to be the most dependable member of the team. And when he's not baking, he can spend an entire day watching cartoons.

Ashok Chhetri
Shuktara Cakes
The self-proclaimed naughtiest of the lot, Ashok was brought to the home in 2003 by an Irish nurse working in a mental asylum in Kolkata. He was wrongly diagnosed for a good part of his early years and is actually a victim of cerebral palsy. And although he has limited mobility, it doesn't stop him from going about life with vigour. In fact, the intelligent and fiercely independent boy refuses help of any kind and pity angers him. He can't speak, but can use sign language and understands English, Hindi and Bengali.

Suman Goswami
Shuktara Cakes
He was just 10 when he was brought to the home. And now, Suman works at the bakery and looks after the packaging station as he's physically challenged and needs help to move around. Known for his soft and polite nature, Suman is an effective worker at the bakery.

Raju Das
Shuktara Cakes
Born on a pavement near Kalighat, Raju's grandmother took care of him after his mother passed away and father abandoned them. He has cerebral palsy and severe disability in both legs. As a child, he would crawl under cars and onto the street, endangering his life. When brought to the NGO's home, he could not walk or talk. But now, after completing his preliminary studies, he's doing extremely well at the bakery, despite his handicap.

Sanjay Sarkar
Shuktara Cakes
He was brought to the NGO at the age of nine in April 2000 and no one knows anything about his background or family. Sanjay, who is deaf and communicates using sign language, has always wanted to have a family of his own. And in 2015, his wish became true when he married Munni. The couple now has a girl, Sumi.

Bapi Das
Shuktara Cakes
He's the laadla of the group, as he's a very matured and amicable despite having a severe hearing impairment. He was brought to the home as a child after the workers of an NGO found him moving around Howrah station.He can now communicate effectively using sign language, is good in studies and really proficient in using computers.

Click here to read the original article in the Times of India.

shuktara home for young people with disabilities - 2017 March - Ratan and Bablu Lal

Emma and Simon at the boys home

Our friends Emma and Simon who visited Lula Bari last week, also spent an afternoon at our boys home. Emma was here on the day that Ratan came, so for her it was very emotional to see him again. The moment he was brought into the house in 2012 was a particularly poignant memory for her.

Emma brought her partner Simon with her this time and it's always interesting to see our homes and young people through someone else's eyes.

In Simon's stunning photos below you can see that he has a great eye and it's no coincidence that his name on Instagram is @polyperspective.

Subhash could not be happier than he is now and Simon captured him last week with rays of afternoon sunlight surrounding him.

Simon captures the spirit of Sunil with perfect evening light shining on him.

Sumon with the staircase and geometric wall of the boys home behind him.

shuktara home for young adults with disabilities - 2017 January - Raju in the sea

Shuktara Cakes holiday in Mandarmani

More photos of the Shuktara Cakes holiday in Mandarmani
shuktara home for boys with disabilities - 2015 January - Raju and Sumon on the set of LION

shuktara on the set of Lion film

First trailer for LION released!

Lion is a film that resonates with many at shuktara - it's the story of a boy who gets lost after boarding the wrong train and ends up in Kolkata, far from home. Adopted by a couple from Australia, many years later he goes back to India to search for his family.

When Lion was filmed last year in Kolkata four of the boys from shuktara were called in by the production team to be part of the film.

Here are photos of Raju, Ashok, Sumon and Bablu on the set.

Colours of Holi

Happy Holi!

According to Wikipedia:
"Holi (होली) is a colourful and happy Hindu holiday celebrated primarily in India on the last full moon of the lunar month of Phalguna at the end of the winter season. It falls in either late February or early March. It is also known as the Festival of Colours."

At shuktara Holi has a long history - every year everyone at shuktara throws coloured powder and liquid colour in bright, vibrant hues at each other, the staff and friends who come by. For days afterward the colour is still visible on faces, hands, and clothes as it slowly fades. Holi is a wonderful holiday, one that everyone participates in and completely enjoys.

Sumon, Raju, Bablu, Ashok and LION film friends

Like many of our boys, Saroo left his home on a train for a bit of excitement, and ended up in a care home here in Kolkata.
The only difference is that Saroo finally landed in Tasmania and found his family again through Google Earth.

His life story, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, is being filmed in India and Bablu, Ashok, Sumon and Raju all had small parts to play – interestingly enough, in a scene very much like some of them have lived through themselves – in a Government Home.
Read the amazing story here:
A Home at the End of Google Earth

Thank you to Hilary Niederer and Miranda Harcourt for putting us all together, choosing Ashok, Bablu Lal, Sumon & Raju to be part of this amazing story, known as LION – but especially for the generosity and love from Anurag, Ambica and Sunny – Assistant Directors taking time out to visit us yesterday during filming.

shuktara - Raju and Sumon
Raju and Sumon listening to direction for their parts in the film

 

shuktara - Raju, Bablu, Sumon
Raju, Bablu and Sumon take a break from filming

 

shuktara - Sumon, Raju, Bablu & Ashok
Sumon, Raju, Bablu, Ashok and friends from the film