Tag: Raju

Shuktara Cakes team

Shuktara Cakes in the news

From The Telegraph India 22nd November 2021


Meet the inspiring bakers of Shuktara Cakes

These men have emerged smiling and victorious against personal battles with disability, and are the soul of Kolkata’s beloved French bakery

Video team: Aatreyee Mohanta and Madhurai Banerjee

In Kolkata, when craving a madeleine or financier, Shuktara Cakes is almost always the name that comes to mind. Established in 2013 by  Alain Cojean, director of Cojean restaurants in Paris, this Behala bakery soon became a crowd pleaser. 

However, their story began years back in 1999 when British national David Earp started Shuktara as a charity to care for children and young adults with disabilities. 

“In 2013, the boys were grown up and we wanted a way to empower them and make them independent. That’s when Shuktara Cakes started,” said Pappu Mishra, Chairman of Shuktara in a chat with My Kolkata at the Shuktara facility. 

The bakery is spread over the rooms on the ground floor of a Behala home, which is also the NGO’s care centre. A team of five men, who all grew up in that home, now create delicious sweet treats right there, spearheaded and supported by Somnath Sardar, manager of Shuktara Cakes. 

There’s a camaraderie only found in childhood friends who grew up together that can be witnessed between the men. In practised ISL (Indian Sign Language) they share jokes about things recent and from the past that makes you feel right at home in their presence. Bonus, their welcoming hospitality includes delicious madeleines to sample.

Meet the Team

(L-R) Rajesh Roy, Raja Mohan Das, Sanjay Sarkar, Ashok Chettri, Raju Das and Somnath Sardar | Aatreyee Mohanta

Sanjay Sarkar

Sanjay Sarkar putting madeleines in the oven | Shuktara Cakes

Sarkar by the team. Now, the 28-year-old is a dedicated baker at Shuktara Cakes. Sanjay always has a smile and a cheery disposition, and he’s often the one who takes the new boys who come to Shuktara under his wing. Sanjay lives independently now with his lovely wife Munni, who also has the same disability, and their five-year-old daughter, Sumi.

Raja Mohan Das

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0VGmallq-O/

Raja has been under Shuktara’s care since 2006 when he was 15. Raja studied at the Oral School for the Deaf where he learned to sign, and is a keen painter with a love for cars and motorbikes. With the highest levels of confidence, 28-year-old Raja is a successful part of the team. He married Riya, who is also hearing imparied, in 2014 and is father to six-year-old Oindrila. 

Rajesh Roy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnI0I08lxri/

Rajesh became a part of the Shuktara family in 2006. He is the shyest of the lot but has a warm smile that will make your day. He came to the home without a name, and from a list of options picked “Rajesh” and “Roy”. From a mischievous child with a keen desire to learn, he has become a strong pillar of the family. He joined the bakery in 2017, after he finished school at the nearby Pragati School. Knowing that his diagnosis of Usher syndrome might eventually lead to blindness has not put a damper in the enthusiasm with which the 25-year-old takes on his responsibility in the team.

(L-R) Raju Das and Ashok Chettri | Shuktara Cakes

Raju Das

One of the most enthusiastic members of the team is 25-year-old Raju. He was born in the roadside slums of Kalighat and was cared for by his grandmother, before he became a part of the Shuktara family. Raju has cerebral palsy, but that doesn’t dampen his spirits one bit and he dreams of using his baking skills to have his own bakery one day. He is speaking and his first language is Bengali, but Raju is also one of the best sign language interpreters in the house. He cherishes his independence and is extremely proud of the phone he bought for himself with his earnings from the bakery.

Ashok Chettri

Ashok was brought to the home by an Irish nurse in 2003, when he was just 11 years old. He chose the 15th April for his birthday because it is the Bengali New Year. He is now 31 years old and has volunteered himself to work at the bakery. Having cerebral palsy his movements and speech is restricted, but he understands Hindi, English and Bengali and uses ISL to communicate. He has a great sense of humour, and also likes to turn the music really loud to dance and show off to the people he likes. He is the one always making jokes in the bakery and working harder than everyone else.

Madeleines fresh out of the oven at Shuktara Cakes’ bakery | Aatreyee Mohanta

Everyone knows about the baked treats that Shuktara Cakes makes, but it is truly a revelation to meet the team behind it. Visits to NGOs and establishments run by charities can often be an overwhelming experience, wrapped in feelings of sympathy, but meeting the team at Shuktara Cakes is different. Their confidence in their skin unknowingly urges you to look past their struggle and see the inspirational, independent men they have become. 

(Shuktara Cakes is known for their madeleines and financiers which they bake fresh when they receive an order. You can order cakes from Shuktara by contacting Somnath Sardar at +91 98743 49175.)


by Aatreyee Mohanta | Published 22.11.21 | Click here to read the original article.

shuktara - Vishwakarma Puja

Holiday Season

Vishwakarma Puja – 17th September

As the holiday season in the West begins, in India the festival season began with Vishwakarma Puja back in September. Vishwakarma Puja was held in the Shuktara Cakes Bakery space which is now on the ground floor of Anna Bari.

Durga Puja – October

Durga Puja is the main festival, but due to Coronavirus restrictions the only outings made were by the Shuktara Cakes team who were selling patisserie at a local Puja.

Diwali / Kali Puja – 4th November

Jagadhatri Puja – 12th – 13th November

Following Durga Puja we celebrated Diwali and Kali Puja and ended our festivities with Jagadhatri Puja held on the 12th and 13th of November outside Anna Bari, where everyone from both homes attended and the local residents enjoyed socialising with our young people and staff.

shuktara

Painless Protection

First vaccinations yesterday for some of the young men and women from shuktara.

Pappu has chosen the first group of 11 today. This was based on those who go in and out of the shuktara premises most regularly.

shuktara celebrates Dol

Dol

Everyone in India celebrates the coming of spring with the festival of Holi, called Dol in West Bengal (Bengali: দোল পূর্ণিমা ‘Dol Purnimā’).  The celebration last Sunday involved a rainbow of colours and gave a chance for both shuktara homes to interact with people in the community.

Only on this day are young people allowed to be a little cheeky with older people by gently rubbing powdered colour on their faces. As you can see it’s a delightful celebration and no one can resist smiling.

 

Christmas at shuktara

Santa comes to shuktara

Our friend Debasish dressed up as Santa Claus to deliver gifts to all the boys, girls and young people at Anna Bari and Lula Bari. You can see by the smiles that everyone was happy and absolutely delighted with their presents.

Click here for some fantastic short videos from Santa’s visit to shuktara.

shuktara

Jagadhatri Puja

Because Durga Puja was a quiet affair this year and none of the shuktara young people were able to leave their homes, Pappu decided to celebate Jagadhatri Puja at Anna Bari on Monday 23rd November. We held it on the ground floor, at the side of the house, using our garage as a place to keep the Goddess in an open space and accessible for all. This meant that we were able to conduct the puja with different groups of people from our community coming in during the day at different times.

And for the afternoon and evening session the girls came over from Lula Bari.

To see videos of Jagadhatri Puja please click here.

shuktara Founder's Day

21 years of shuktara!

It was in October 1998 that Alison Saracena (our webmistress), Bryan Forst (developer and technical expert) and David Earp (founder of shuktara) left their respective homes in San Francisco and London to head to Kolkata and start something that they had discussed for a long time, working with young people with disabilities.

Nothing quite worked out as they had planned and they started teaching typing and computer skills to youngsters in Alison and Bryan’s flat – this later became Uddami, a computer training centre. At that time they all lived on Southern Avenue in Kolkata.

On the 1st July 1999, David received a call to say there were two young men (Anna and Sunil) who were being moved from child care to adult care in a facility outside Kolkata and people had heard that they wanted to work with young people just like this.

That was the beginning of shuktara and on Wednesday we celebrated 21 years.

shuktara

 

Our celebration had an element of sadness because Anna passed away in October 2018 and we had our 20th anniversary last year, our first without him.

Everyone misses Anna but we cherish our many wonderful memories of him.

We had a low key ceremony for Anna at the boys house, now known as Anna Bari, with a white floral garland draped around his photo and the boys gathered around.

 

shuktara - Raju

 

This year due to lockdown only the staff and shuktara young people celebrated our Founders Day, the boys at Anna Bari and the girls at Lula Bari. As usual everyone enjoyed delicious mutton curry and payesh (Bengali rice-based pudding).

We also celebrated Raju’s birthday on 1st July, the day he chose – as with almost all of our young people, we don’t know his actual day of birth. In the evening David took a Happy Birthday Raju cake to the girls to spend some time at their home on this very special occasion.