Newly opened Writer's Cafe in Chennai employs survivors of domestic abuse to bake cakes.
Swiss baker Silke Stadler and Karan Manavalan are currently training seven women to bake cakes. They said that their aim is to create a positive workplace where the women are not judged for past actions.
Aniruddha Sen, who is the CEO of Oriental Cuisines, the company which runs the cafe, said, “We want them to have a permanent livelihood through this venture.”
The stories of the women that the cafe employs are heartbreaking. Four years ago, 29-year-old K Asma poured kerosene on herself and lit a match, in order to scare her husband into stopping the abuse against her.
“I was thinking a small burn mark, some ointment and back to work as a sweeper cleaning the city roads after a day,” Asma told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I didn’t think the fire would consume me and my life would become a living hell.”
The cafe donates the profits it makes to the NGO International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care. Parent company Oriental Cuisines aims to start more cafes such as the Writer's Cafe in 2017. It already runs the Freedom Bakery which teachers prisoners how to bake and Winner’s Bakery which trains the differently abled.
"The job is just an aspect of the overall personality development that we aim to provide survivors of burns," management trainee Lulu Bahari told Scoopwhoop.
The women were even taken for a shopping day, at the start of the project, where they were encouraged to buy things they liked. The management at the cafe always encourages these women to value themselves and feel good about themselves.
“Baking that cake makes me forget everything, even my gnarled hands and scarred face. I find a little bit of happiness,” Asma said.