Located opposite the Taj Mahal in Agra, a brand new cafe is the latest initiative of the NGO Chaanv that has collaborated with the acid attack victims and supporters of the Stop Acid Attack network. "The victims had many dreams which were shattered by the attack. We now aim to make them dependent and give them an opportunity to live their dreams," says Ashish Shukla, a member of the non governmental body.
Situated at the Fatehabad Road opposite the Taj Mahal Gateway, the cafe took almost a month to be come up with an initial investment of about Rs 3 lakh, much of which was raised by a website dedicated to Nitu, an acid attack survivor.
Some time after Nitu was brutally attacked with acid, her father expired and it was left to her mother to fend for her family, which she did by making and selling boxes. Now the newly opened cafe, offers Nitu and others like her a chance to earn a livelihood and become independent.
Owners of the food outlet say they plan to train Nitu and other local survivors to manage the business. "We want to bring an end to this donation system and do not want to continue this for long. So we are trying to open up cafes and boutiques for the survivors as a mean of their daily bread. This would also act as rehabilitation for the victims," says Shukla.
The outlet which has been christened as "Cafe Sheroes hangout" a play on the word Heroes to salute the spirit of female acid attack survivors, the outlet has been envisaged as a centre of various activities. Graffiti and paintings portray women empowerment on the walls of the 'hangout' which includes a reading room of books on women's empowerment and feminism.