'Sheroes Hangout' reopen kindles hopes of acid attack victims again

After the \'Sheroes Hangout Café\' in Lucknow and Agra, acid attack survivors in Varanasi will soon have a café that will be run by them. The restaurant called â  The Orange Café is being opened in the Durga Kund area and is the brainchild of Ajay Kumar Patel who started the â  Red Brigadeâ   in 2011 which is an NGO that trains women in self-defence.
Photo: IANS/Representative image

Agra: After months of distress, acid attack survivors in Agra have finally something to smile about. 'Sheroes Hangout', the cafe run by these survivors has finally reopened.

The cafe had shut down in April this year due to a lack of business during the pandemic lockdown.

Ashish Shukla, director of Chhanv Foundation, the non-profit body that backs the Sheroes initiative, said financial assistance from people across the country and abroad helped the cafe reopen.

Shukla said that "The focus is now on reviving our mission, making the lives of survivors better through our 'Vision 2022' programme, under which we will induct new survivors, providing them better employment opportunities. We also plan to find new ways to ensure financial stability for survivors."

Sheroes Hangout is a cafe, run by survivors of acid attacks, that aims to increase awareness of acid attacks and empower acid attack survivors. There are currently two cafe locations in Agra and Lucknow.

The rent of Sheroes Home (a rehabilitation centre) is paid by the revenue generated from the cafe. The educational project for survivors is also aided by the cafe, as are other campaigns and projects of the foundation.

"The foundation is currently bearing the medical expenses of 60 acid attack survivors. Besides, it is paying Rs 10,000 to 30 survivors associated with its different projects, including the cafe," Shukla said.

The first cafe, located in Agra, was opened in 2014 by Alok Dixit of Stop Acid Attacks, a non-profit based in New Delhi.

The cafe began as a crowdfunded project and it operated on a 'pay what you want' model. This model remained in place for several years but the cafe now features a fixed menu with fixed prices.

Sheroes Hangout gave the acid attack survivors acceptance and a means of income. Some of the women are now the primary earners in their families. Many of the patrons of the cafe are foreign tourists.


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