The Sheroes Hangout Project
Directly Benefitting Project For Acid Attack Survivors
This entrepreneurial project is planned and implemented by the CHHANV FOUNDATION in favour of the STOP ACID ATTACKS Campaign against acid violence in India. Our major concerns are to empower acid attack survivors in such a way that they cope up with the society head-to-head learning social behavior through interaction with people who pay concern for acid burn cases and at the same time the project promotes awareness of proximity of acid attack cases in India.
SHE + HEROES + HANGOUT = SHEROES HANGOUT
Sheroes Hangout is basically a cafe run by acid attack survivors open to general public. The exemplary model has been implemented in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. The model of the cafe is designed strictly in such a way that the acid attack survivors can work in their self interest and the society can integrate with the project to implement various skill development programs for the survivors involved in the deployed project. The revenue of the cafe not only fulfills the employment problems but also helps to gather funds for the pursuing career of the acid attack survivors.
The project was inaugurated by reknown singer Sona Mahapatra and celebrity hair stylist and activist Sapna Bhavnani on 10th December last year 2014. On completion of one year of its implementation an enriched qualitative impact has been measured and observed in the lives of the five acid attack survivors being involved in the project.
The five acid attack survivors Ritu, Rupa, Neetu, Geeta and Dolly has gone through specialised rehabilitation plans and have almost completed the targetted mission in its phase of first year. Stepping into the next phase this year we have legally declared the ownership of the cafe solely to these five acid attack survivors.
REINVENTING SHEROES HANGOUT IN 2015
So far we are thankful to each one of those who has contributed to this project and extended our efforts on such a subject. The last year 2014-15 has been extremely experimental for the project. We have gone through much hassles and hurdles and the same have helped us better understand to look upon further development of the project. For better social integrating hangout experience we are introducing self cooking counters and utilising the entire space of the location we are further extending our service area to the open terrace cafe.
The newly updated model extensively involves the acid attack survivors in their respective genres of work. This will require a little more effort and contribution from you. We will need to fund an upcoming annual runway budget for such standardised extended model of Sheroes Hangout.
Snacks, Tea and Coffee by Geeta and Neetu:
"Hi, my name is Neetu and she (Geeta) is my mother. I had lost my eyes in an #AcidAttack when I was 3 years old. Now its been 21 yrs since the attack and I continue to live with a disfigured face. I like making different kinds of boxes and doing their decoration. The person who was the reason of my birth destroyed my life. He was my father who threw acid on me when i didn't even know what is it. I don't know how my mother looks now or I have grown myself. I have no memories of pictures that I can rewind in my mind. The doctors have said that I wont be able to see anything my whole life. He was my father but he became my destroyer."
"Hi, my name is Geeta. Every women thinks that after her father, her husband will protect her as a friend but mine proved me wrong. He came drunk one night and fought with me. He was angry that I was not able to give him a son, he hated our daughters. His anger destroyed me through acid. He attacked not only me, my daughters also suffered with me, their lives were also destroyed by acid. This deadly substance had not only burnt my body but my heart too"
Gita, who currently works at the cafe, wants to become a chef.
At SheRoes, Neetu Mahour greets customers from behind the counter and the scars across her face do not stop her from putting her best foot forward. Her mother Geeta, who also works in the café, was injured in an acid attack and lost her second girl child due to it and she says that Sheroes has brought her back to the public view because before this she always covered her face and stayed behind the veil.
But now Geeta and Neetu will offer cooked dishes and delicacies from the state in the courtyard of the cafe. It will be exciting for everyone to have some of these from the menu specially cooked by Neetu and Geeta.
You do need to munch on when chilling out with friends. And revolutions, too, are not brought out with an empty belly. So, a tiny cafe serves delicious bites round the hour, along with awesome beverages. The hangout also houses an ever-growing (through contributions) library, so pick your read, before you take the table.
Tailoring and Boutique by Rupa:
"Hi! I am Rupa. I am not a very talkative girl. I like to stitch my dreams as I want to run my own designer boutique. I was just 2 years old when my mom died. My father married again and I had thought my new mother will love me like her own child but soon the curtains of life were drawn and misery began. Still I was happy because people used to tell me that my face looks similar to my real mother and I felt at peace thinking about my face as her last possession with me . Things were bearable until my step-mother thought of snatching that last memory from me too by throwing acid on my face. I not only survived through a burning body but I survived burning of my memories too."
What we had met Rupa, two years back, in the initial days of the campaign, she was a shy girl, unsure of herself. With her thin dupatta she covered the scars of an attack so brutal that it had shaken her very belief in people, family and love. Rupa had been acid attacked by her step mother as she slept in her house at Islampur Ghasaoli village in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Rupa was fifteen years of age at the time.
The acid had melted her skin, burnt her eye brows, disfigured her upper lip, and that wasn’t even the end of the physical pain she had felt. The carefree spirit of a teenager, the twinkle of the eyes as it dreams of the future- all lost behind the shroud of unimaginable pain & trauma. At present, Rupa works in SheRoes Hangout in Agra and she is a different Rupa. Rupa has a talent in fashion designing which she wants to pursue. As she walked into the Sheroes Hangout Café, showcasing her dress designs in her own boutique store, you can see confidence in her stride.
Handicrafts and Floor Manager Ritu:
"Hi! my name is Ritu . I love playing volleyball. Running , jumping, making goals and laughter was what I dreamed of . I liked my life's routine of first going to school and then going for practice of volleyball. That day when I stepped out of the house , someone threw acid on me at a busy road . I didn't knew why it was done to me but then I came to know that just for some property issue, my life was destroyed."
Three years ago, acid was thrown on a 17 year old Ritu. The attack had been orchestrated by extended family. Ritu, the youngest of the five siblings had been chosen so as to cause the most hurt to her parents. It was a property dispute. The corrosive acid, took away her left eye, her nose melted and as the liquid ran down her cheeks and neck, her skin shriveled up. Ritu remembers the incomprehensible burning sensation and between her screams of agony, she remembers how no one came to help. As she squirmed in pain in the middle of a busy road in Rohtak, where the attack had occurred in broad day light, Ritu says precious time was wasted as people did nothing but stare.
That was when campaigners of the Stop Acid Attacks movement got in touch with her and motivated her to continue treatment, regain her selfconfidence and become independent. As part of her search for a new identity, she insisted that her name not be changed during the interview. For Ritu, it is a very difficult journey from despair to hope. Ritu admits that initially she totally withdrew from family and friends. She didn’t speak to anyone for months on end. She spent painful and sleepless nights and her reactions to anyone who approached her were fearful, her responses to even the simplest questions startled and confused. As a result of counselling and mentoring, Ritu has become campaigners for justice.
As the floor manager at SheRoes, she now roams with her face held high and wants every girl to believe in herself. Ritu, a state level volley ball player before her attack, now wants to finish school and follow her dream of doing something in sports as well. Time has passed, the pain has numbed, and numerous surgeries have reconstructed faces albeit a reflection of what had been. Today Ritu with her other survivor colleagues think and believe that they are independent, confident professionals.
"But now with SHEROES HANGOUT. I am not alone . Earlier I couldn't fight and now I am doing it right."
While the handicraft work of our Sheroes is always on display at the Hangout for sale, the exhibition space will provide a venue to many others in the country to come exhibit/perform their skills. The idea is to organize gatherings like poetry and book readings, jewellery and other design exhibits to engage Sheroes in a constructive activity, while also generating funds to run this space.
Hospitality Management and Services by Dolly
Dolly was 12 when she was attacked by a 25-year-old man. He wanted undue favors from Dolly even though she was a minor. The acid ruined her nostrils, causing a permanent breathing problem. For more than a year after the attack, she refused to step out of her house. But working among other survivors at the Sheroes’ Hangout gave her courage. “You burnt my face, but not my will to live. You can’t throw acid on that,” she wrote in a letter to her attacker. “I will fight this case in court, not only for myself but for other girls, so they do not lose their courage before people like you.”
Dolly wants to become a doctor, but is struggling to raise the money required to fund her education. She's going through hack schooling by a tutor on a specifically designed curriculum based on her interests and skills. Meanwhile at the cafe she maintains the libraray and interacts with the guests.
Activism workshop by SAA Campaigners:
Campaigning for victims of acid attacks helped us realize that most of them come from a background where education is still limited to learning the basics of reading and writing. Using a computer or a mobile phone to connect and create still remains out of reach for many young girls being brought up in miserable circumstances through out the country. The activism workshops at Sheroes Hangout are aimed at training girls to use computers and other gadgets and helping them utilise social media as a real tool of empowerment and outreach. Programmes based on basic legal awareness, judicial and political procedures, cinema, art & culture and gender issues keep the workshops engaging and lively.
Here are few glimpses of the work being done by activists and volunteers at SheROs cafe. We need your comments and suggestions regarding this projects. Please register on Paltan to work with our team, www.paltan.in
Social Integration Impact
- Mass Awarness - Through the subject invention of Sheroes Hangout in the society, the attention on acid violence has been lifted to much appreciable extent in the country. The societal problems and discrimination with acid attack survivors have levelled down to some extent.
- Reach-Out - Proximity of Sheroes Hangout in the state has helped us to reach many other survivors and the other way around. For example, Dolly, Ansu and Farah have recently joined the Sheroes Hangout Project as they got awared about the initiative.
- National and International Media Cover - Fortunately this project has gained enormous amount of media cover around the world. It alarms humanity about acid being treated as an easily accessible weapon in our world. The effective media coverage has attracted large mass of tourists visiting in India.
Why your support is important to us?
Campaign StopAcidAttacks hasn't accepted funds from corporate or government, just to keep our campaign more independent with the support of individuals & friends who care for our cause. The Cafe SheROs is also a result of crowd funding campaigns online.
How we will spend 1500000/25000USD support
Set-up Cost: 500000 INR
Training & Execution: 200000 INR
Staff and Salaries (for 6 months): 700000 INR
Rent & Electricity (for 6 months): 400000 INR
Advertising: 80,000 INR
Events: 1,20,000 INR
Mislenious: 100000 INR
Total: 2100000 INR
How to get more updates on this project:
We have started a Facebook page of SheROs hangout and update the page on hourly basis. Please like the page and share our page with friends to get them involve in cause, which needs everyone's urgent attention. Link: https://www.facebook.com/SheroesHangout
Report this Page