By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, Dec 11 | Sheroes Hangout Cafe, run by acid attack survivors, has reopened in Agra and Lucknow, after almost two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Sheroes Hangout Cafe, Agra was launched on December 10, 2014. After a gap of two years, it opened on its seventh anniversary day, in the presence of a large number of social activists and well wishers in the Taj Nagari area.
The initiative is supported by the Chhanv Foundation. The cafe not only gives survivors employment but also acts as a platform to raise awareness about acid attacks and in taking this issue to an international level through the tourism that the cafe attracts.
Talking to IANS, Ajay Tomar, associated with the project said: “With the onset of the ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ campaign in 2014, the waves of change began, and many survivors got associated with the Chhanv Foundation. But due to the exclusion from society, the betterment of the survivors was neglected. To necessitate the changes and to empower the survivors, ‘Sheroes Hangout Cafe’ in Agra was started.”
Roopa and Gita said, the “Cafe is based on the module which helps survivors in rehabilitation and empowers them with the platform from which they can raise their voices. Cafe has a different revenue module i.e. ‘pay as u wish’ concept, and contributes towards bringing people together for a noble cause.”
The cafe, close to the Taj Mahal attracts tourists from all over the world. The visitors can visit Sheroes Hangout Cafe and interact with survivors, appreciating their world of courage and strength, Dolly and Khushboo said.
Ashish Shukla, the coordinator, said: “the revenue model of Chhanv Foundation and its different projects extensively depends upon the cafe in Agra. The rent of Sheroes Home (a rehabilitation centre) is paid by the revenues 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 survivors said the pandemic brought huge challenges as their main source of revenue was the cafe, which was shut. It was mainly dependent on the attention it received from the tourists.
Ajay Tomar said the challenges were just not about the general expenses, the chief problem was medical treatment which came to a halt with the closing of the cafe. The projects/campaigns of Chhanv that ensured the development of survivors were also affected. The opening of the cafe is very crucial for all the survivors associated with the Chhanv foundation.”
The survivors said, “Sheroes Hangout is substantial because it is a space where people get an opportunity to understand the problems faced by our survivors in society, leading to greater social change. We want to revive our mission of enhancing the lives of survivors through our Vision 2022 programme with which we will not only clear our liabilities but also induct new survivors, providing the better employment opportunity.”