Lakshmi Agarwal gave a very emotional speech at an TEDx event held in Jaipur last year. Her 19 minute speech had a highlight -a video about the café run by acid attack survivors – Sheroes Hangout.
We are very familiar with the word, ‘heroes’. But this word, ‘sheroes’ is coined specially for those brave women who are real life heroes. Thus the name, Sheroes Hangout.
This café in Tajganj, Agra has two brimming highlights. One, that it is run proudly and efficiently by acid attack survivors and two, you pay what you want for what you eat there. The café has a library and is an initiative of the Stop Acid Attacks, an NGO based in Delhi. The money that the café makes goes to the aid of acid attack survivors.
Watch this documentary written directed by Sushmita Mukherjee, shot by Titly Mukherjee.
Rupa, who is an acid-attack survivor is a fashion designer. Some of her designs are put out on sale at the café for people to buy as well. Rupa’s story is gruesome. She was attacked with acid by her stepmother when she was sleeping in her village in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Do you know how old was she then? Just 15. Today, this woman is a walking inspiration.
Another charming woman who works at the café is Ritu. She usually takes the orders and has an amazing memory. She was 17 when acid was thrown on her face by her relatives as they wanted to hurt her family. She lost her left eyes but when you meet here you will see that she has a vision clearer than most of us.
Another beautiful lady, Neetu stands behind the counter and greets the visitor with a huge smile. How difficult would it be to have your own father throw acid on you, your mother and your baby sister? That is what happened with Neetu 20 years ago when she was only 3 years old. Her own father, threw acid at her, her mother Geeta and her baby sister Kishna who died as a result of the acid attack Neetu and her mother Geeta both work at the café.
The walls of the café are nicely done in graffiti and also hosts photos of the survivors, clicked by photographer, Rahul Saharan.
Sheroes Hangout is a place you should be in atleast once in your life. Not only will it broaden your perspective but it will also make you see the world in a different light. Five women who work at the café will inspire you beyond imagination and teach you the meaning of real beauty.
This TEDx speech by acid-attack survivor Lakhsmi Agarwal is something everyone should watch: