Here’s to strong women –
“May we Know them,
May we Be them,
May we Raise them.”
These thoughts will indulge a part of your mind if you pass this beautiful café named “Sheroes Hangout Café” in Lucknow. Sheroes Hangout Café and Reach-out Centre is a café run by the acid attack survivors with a motive of “#StopAcidAttacks”. This is the second branch of Sheroes café in Lucknow, being inaugurated first in Agra on December 10, 2014, with the implementation of “pay as you wish” concept. The Lucknow center of Sheroes Hangout Café, inaugurated on the International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016, is run by five acid attack survivors named Rani, Anusha Rajput, Farah, Shanti, Preeti Patel. It is located opposite Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar Sthal, near Lucknow metro office, Gomatinagar, Lucknow.
Idea and title of Sheroes Café:
The idea of Sheroes café came to Mr. Alok Dixit, co-founder of Sheroes café and Chhanv Foundation. He thought this place to be a venue where new wave feminism will evolve by every single day and will help to overcome the challenges faced by women in South Asian cultures and societies. The first branch of Sheroes café was started in Agra without any support from the government and corporates. That became a huge success with the help and contribution of common people of society. The title of Sheroes café represents the women there who survived after receiving a debilitating blow on their appearance by some members of the same society we live in. These women are the epitomes of courage and eternal beauty who decided to live, work, walk in the midst of society and forced it to reconsider its norms about beauty and appearance. The women at café have got a personality that captures the heart of the visitors here and proves that beauty is a light in the heart.
Stories of the Ladies at Sheroes Café:
Rani, who works at the helpdesk of Sheroes hangout café, recollects that misfortune day by saying: “I was 17 years old. That man was in the army. He used to trouble me all the time. I tried to resist so he took revenge by throwing acid on my face. I lost my eyesight completely and was admitted to the ICU for 9 months. My mother and brother had to bear all my medical expenses by taking loans.”
Anusha Rajput shares her disheartening story when she was attacked by a 55-year-old neighbor while sleeping just because she had protested against his advances. She was completely blinded but with the efforts of Chhanv Foundation, she recovered 20% of her eyesight.
Farah who manages the counter work at Sheroes Café, tells that this remorseless act was done by her own husband on February 11, 2009. Shanti who serves the orders at Sheroes, remembers that she was attacked by acid by a distant relative of her own family because of some disputes with her parents when she was just 17 years old. Preeti was attacked by a 40-45 years old neighbor who used to trouble her. She was fortunate enough to save her face but the acid burned her back.
Inspirations We Can Draw….
It takes a coward to target a woman’s body for their revenge rather than raising their arguments. Hindering a woman’s existence will be a great loss to commons. Men need to be focused towards many things rather than noticing woman bodies for self-entertainment. You exist because of her. Ruining her identity will leave you with miserable reflections. Her life is precious. Her body is pure and remains to be unnoticed for immoral actions. If you find anyone suffering from physical abuse around you, be polite and civilized to them and encourage them to live a blissful life by losing sight of the scars she got from an unfortunate accident, anyone could suffer from. Treat them fairly among others and make them realize of their priceless status. Encourage them to be the survivors rather than just be the insufferable victims. Set them free from false notions because the negative effects of an abuse disturb a woman’s life no matter how many years have passed. And the most important is to encourage life out of her.
Writer’s Cafe: Yet another Kitchen headed by fighters’
Writer’s cafe and bakery is a restaurant that is situated at Peter’s Road, Gopalapuram Chennai. The city is filled with restaurants with different cuisine’s, ambiance and themes and writer’s cafe is here to rewrite all of them. This cafe chose to make a spectacular difference and stand out from all the others.
Writer’s Cafe employs acid burn victims at their bakery and provides them a new take on life. The restaurant is a pilot initiative by M.Mahadevan, the man behind one of the leading bakery in the city, Hot Breads. On asked why he took such an initiative, Mr.Mahadevan, fondly called the bread man, was heard saying “I come from a humble background and in wanted to do what I could to provide employment to the people from a lower income groups, and this time, I wanted to do a little more to provide people a new lease on life, and people who were shunned mostly by the society seemed like the ones who needed that the most.” Most of the other employees in the restaurant also belong to a low-income group.
The cafe has got a tie up with Higginbotham’s, one of the oldest and biggest bookstores in South India. Thus, they are able to provide a variety of books at the restaurant for the customers to choose and read during the course of their dining.
The cafe currently employs 7 burn victims in its bakery. The stories of all these women are different. Some were actually attacked by unsuspected people, and the others were self-immolation. Though none of them had any prior experience in cooking the kind of food that the cafe and bakery planned to offer, they all underwent four months of training under Chef Silke Stadler, from Switzerland.
The restaurant serves a limited variety of simple yet tasty Italian food in an ambiance that is cozy, warm and silent. The cafe has close tie-ups with not only Higginbotham’s, but also with the international foundation for crime prevention and victim care, and shares the profit with the organization.