I arrived in Agra with my heart set on visiting the majestic Taj Mahal, but it was a small cafe on a dusty road that is the experience etched in my memory. It was a good vege-burger and fries so why all the fuss? Well, the story behind Sheroes Hangout Cafe is beyond inspirational.
The workers at Sheroes Hangout are survivors of acid attacks. Their faces and bodies still bear the reminders of the horror they have had to endure but their smiles radiate their strength and confidence. I didn’t take any photos of my server although I am sure they would have been fine. I preferred to just enjoy the experience, food and be in the presence of such strong-willed, courageous women.
Sheroes Hangout is much more than a cafe, although the food was quite good. Acid attack survivors use the hangout to display their artwork, which is for sale. It’s also a refuge and a reach-out station, a safe space and a creative space all rolled into a cafe.
The Cafe helps the women by giving them the business exposure they otherwise would find hard to experience. Because of their physical appearance the women or Sheroes as they are known, are subject to discrimination in many areas of their lives. Being able to work at the cafe is seen as one of the best ways for the women to gain back the confidence that was unfairly ripped from them.
Image sourced from www.youthkiawaaz.com
Sheroes Hangout is an initiative of the Chanv Foundation, an NGO responsible for the campaign #StopAcidAttacks.
I ordered a vege-burger, fries, and a mango smoothie. I was a little confused, there were no prices on the menu but I didn’t really care I assumed it wasn’t going to be too expensive. I was here to support the cause not find a bargain budget backpacker’s meal.
When I asked for the bill, my soft-spoken server told me there are no prices and you pay as you like. I thought that was a nice touch. It gave customers the chance to add a little bit of extra financial support without it coming off as a handout. It was a tip on top of the meal for a good feed and a great cause.
If you find yourself in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, definitely stop past to support these amazing women and the #StopAcidAttacks movement!