In February 2020, a group of acid attack survivors from Uttar Pradesh started ‘The Orange Café and Restaurant: Standing for a violence-free world’ in Varanasi. They were helped by the collaborative efforts of the Red Brigade Trust, the Care Today Fund and ActionAid Association, and is now owned and operated by the survivors.
The message of Orange Café is to support women against violence. Their courage shows that violence is not the end of their story and that they are valuable members of their community. The survivors found it very difficult to find employment. They were often perceived to be a burden on their families, with minimal options to stand on their own feet. Owning and running a business helps the survivors show the world that they have a lot to offer. With every meal they serve, they change the attitude of their customers and build more supporters for women against violence.
COVID-19 hit a month after the inauguration of the Orange Café’, but the café continued to run, not for paying customers, but for the marginalized communities of the city. Starting March 30, Orange Cafe prepared over 200 food packets every day for the marginalized.
“We are getting good quality cooked food on a regular basis and do not sleep on an empty stomach,” said Savita, a daily wage earner, who had lost her income during the lockdown.
Energized by the committed efforts of these women, the police administration of Durgakund locality, where the Café is located came forward to support the distribution of food.
Now, these brave women are fighting to keep the Orange Café alive. With no revenues in the initial months of business opening, the survivors need help to ensure that Orange Café remains open. They need help keep their hard-earned business running, and the struggle to change attitudes of society.
“We have faced many difficulties and hardships in our life after the incident of acid attack, but today I am happy and satisfied to do something for the most vulnerable sections of the society in this hour of need,” says Badama Devi, one of these brave survivors.
The survivors running Orange Café are serving their communities and provoking change in people’s attitudes towards the survivors like them. They need your help to stand on their own feet and continue the fight against patriarchal violence and for the benefit of all society.