Sheroes Hangout was started in Agra, Uttar Pradesh in 2014 to rehabilitate the acid victim fighters and providing them adequate skill training in the subject that each survivor was interested in learning. It was conceptualized by a Delhi based organization – Chhanv Foundation.
Sheroes Hangout is not a conventional cafe but comes with a lot of additional features, like a bookshelf running across the entire seating area, a boutique, a library, an exhibit space where work created by survivors are displayed along with delicious preparations, cooked and served by the sheroes.
The establishment in Agra was visited by Akhilesh Yadav, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh last year. The CM and his wife met acid attack victims Neetu, Geeta, Ritu and others, had coffee with them, and directed District Magistrate Pankaj Kumar to look for land to help them to open a bigger and better cafe. Akhilesh Yadav also said he would help them open similar cafes in Lucknow, Kanpur, and Noida.
Keeping his words, the People’s CM inaugurated Sheroes Hangout in Lucknow on Women’s Day, a year later. This giant step was taken up by the UP government who is working on improving the state of life of acid-fighters and their reintegration in the society. Four of these sheroes are from Uttar Pradesh and one is from Odisha.
The sprawling, centrally located cafe space in Gomti Nagar was provided by the Uttar Pradesh Women Welfare Department on Akhilesh Yadav’s intervention. The Sheroes Hangout in Lucknow aims to rehabilitate five survivors – Farah, Aruna, Reshma, Sunita, and Rani.
“This comes as a ray of hope for us. Previously I felt isolated and was hesitant to come in front of the world. But this cafe gives us a platform to showcase our skills and rehabilitate. I am illiterate but now I am learning to read and write,” says Sunita, a Shero, thanking the UP government.
The young CM also promised them and their families all the possible aid along with announcing a special helpline and ambulance service for the sheroes.
चेहरा ढक कर चलना बिलकुल भी गवाँरा न था उसे
उसके जज़्बे को जला दे, ऐसा तेज़ाब बना ही कहाँ था
Sheroes the name of the cafe is an innuendo on the word ‘hero’ and we couldn’t agree with it more!