Chennai’s Writer’s Café Empowers Burn Survivors And Victims Of Abuse

by | September 18, 2020, 10:22 IST


In 2016 when Writer’s Café was launched, it became the much talked about place not just for the concept of books and coffee but the cafe employed women who are burn survivors. The café is the brainchild of M. Mahadevan, a restaurateur, along with International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC) to provide women with a dignified life. “Mahadevan, the Managing Director of Advantage Foods Pvt Ltd, has always looked at ways of developing sustainable business models around social projects. The company’s mission is to empower lives through innovative and sustainable culinary concepts” said Tarun Mahadevan, son of Mahadevan who is currently taking care of the operations at Writer’s Cafe. 

He says by enabling their customers to purchase with a purpose, they allow them to know that they are spending for a good cause. “We first started working with PCVC around 4.5 years ago, and their support in this field has been phenomenal. By allowing the women to be self-sufficient and financially independent, Writers Café gave them a new outlook on life. Their commitment and hard work, of course, has been the driving force for our business” he says. 

The employees at Writer’s café have to take a three-month rigorous training program to earn this job. “This program involves baking, ice cream manufacturing, confectionary, barista training, cooking and so on. After they express an area of interest, they are placed on a full-time position within the specified domain” explains Sharadha Dharmaraj, who’s been with the café ever since its launch. “Since I was elder to everyone in the team, it was easy for me to take care of the girls, comfort them and motivate them whenever needed,” she says.

Writer’s cafe has six outlets in Chennai, and the practice of employing burn survivors across all these outlets has been followed since day one. “In some cafes, you will see them making your coffee, some who will be taking your orders or even making their signature dishes! At our central production facility, you will see them baking cakes, croissants and much more” says Tarun, who also stressed about the mental training these women undergo before they are employed at the café. “Especially operating in a fast-paced F&B environment would require nerves of steel. Getting accustomed to this will be a challenge. While some of the women are initially shy. PCVC has appointed counsellors who have frequent sessions with all the women to address any issues they may not feel comfortable telling our staff about.”


Tarun says the team felt very motivated with regards to customer’s reaction and acceptance. “It was heartening to see them being accepted and welcomed. Each one of them has a story – being abused at home, self-immolation due to the abuse that they underwent in their marital relationship and so many other heart-wrenching stories. By allowing our customers to hear our employees’ stories, they really could get an insight into the various hardships faced by them. But more importantly, the mindset that has allowed them to overcome these hardships and be proud of themselves in what they do. By hearing someone out and encouraging them that sky is the limit, the sheer joy they receive and experience is unforgettable” he concludes.

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