A Cafe with a Special Aroma

When you enter the ‘RK Coffee house’ in Jallandhar , Punjab, the frescoed walls welcome you, with an extraordinary hospitality team that includes Himanshi Mittal. Himanshi, 16 yrs has cerebral palsy. Her smile and confidence would draw anyone’s attention

Born with the condition , she also had a few medical complications early in life and had to undergo corrective surgeries. This trail caused delays in her development that left her parents to explore furiously ways of re – planning their lives while also discovering avenues that would help Himanshi accomplish her best. When in a mainstream school, Himanshi kept to herself. She would only see her classmates group together leaving her all by herself. Although she was unable to communicate this to them, she felt the pangs of isolation and rejection that drew her into a shell. Tiffin break would push her into a lonely corner , eating alone while passively watching others sit in groups. She never complained because this is what life was for her. Due to being unable to perform in studies and also showing signs of losing confidence, her parents shifted her to a special school

Admission in St. Joseph’s convent special school Cantt road Jalandhar brought positive changes in her life. She learnt a variety of skills and was introduced , about a year back, to Special Olympics. Softball , Baggo, Yoga are activities that she joined under the mentorship of her Coach, Ms Navjot Saroop. Within a short time, Himanshi started to look up to her mentor, very often overtly expressing her admiration for her. She made friends, Poma being one of them.

Navjot said that it took a bit longer than expected, getting Himanshi to participate in sports. She hesitated because she felt that she would lose her balance and fall. She preferred to sit and do the activities. Constant counselling and perseverance on the part of her Coach gradually increased her sports involvement.

This year, 1st Feb opened a new avenue in her life, placing her in a Café run by Ms Rekha Kashyap, National Trainer, SO Bharat. Having trained her for a while, Rekha said, “ She has shown tremendous potential to assume a higher role. She works as the Front Desk manager at the café, also taking orders from the clients. She visits the Café everyday , working for 2 ½ hours. It is not only impacting her life, but also that of others . It is sensitising the clients of an existing ‘not so visible’ disability along with co-existing abilities” Rekha is training more SO Bharat Athletes to be part of the hospitality team at the RK Café.

Ms Monica Mittal, Himanshi’s mother is pleased to have her positively occupied all day. “ I know she can utilise her energy positively. Sports and the café helps her do so. Her reaction to everything is ‘no, first, but deep in her heart she wants to do more, to show that she can. I trust sports to ignite that spark in her.