“Love is not a gated community.”—Frank Ostaseki
Yes, my friends, it’s finally here. The auspicious date when Taz’s 222 Foundation announces recipient numero uno of its annual $10,222 grant.
Sheroes Hangout is an incredibly inspiring café/coffee shop in Agra, India, not far from the Taj Mahal where I left part of Taz’s ashes.
I discovered this colorful, creative hangout in November when I was in India with TribesForGOOD. During seven-day social impact journeys, this innovative program pairs volunteers with small social enterprises, uplifting both volunteers and communities. That, of course, is how it should be. Win-win-win-win.
My radiant daughter Tasman, in her short 25 years on the planet, was relentless in standing up for those who are marginalized. Her continuous fight for the underdog is why I chose Sheroes Hangout. It’s run by victims of acid attacks, 10 women whose lives have been turned upside down by having acid thrown on them by people who allegedly loved them.
For example, Geeta and her two daughters were attacked by her husband while sleeping. He was mad that she hadn’t yet produced a male heir. The acid melted their skin, burned their eyebrows and disfigured their lips, faces and necks.
Today, rather than hide, rather than feel like outcasts, Geeta, her daughter and eight other women who suffered the same fate joyfully run Sheroes Hangout. They do the books, they cook, they manage the library and boutique where their creations are sold. Most importantly, Sheroes Hangout offers coffee and free food to anyone who stops by, no questions asked.
Rather than protest their unfortunate situations, these women are changing society by choosing to give, by choosing to love, by choosing to demonstrate that, despite being culturally shunned, they are still beautiful and worthy and bursting with important gifts to bestow on the world.
Not long after I was in Agra, the road near the café had to be widened so the grant from Taz Grout’s 222 Foundation will enable them to relocate to their new hangout.
Sheroes satisfies the mission of the 222 Foundation because it overcomes norms inflicted by society—norms like being defined and judged by our looks. Norms like believing it’s more important to look good on the outside than be good on the inside.
Because of their difficult circumstances, the women who run Sheroes Hangout have learned the importance and truth of inner beauty. They’ve learned how to give unconditionally. They inspire all of us to turn tragedy into something that helps others.
Eventually, Taz’s 222 Foundation will be an incubator for brand new creative projects and ideas. I will put out a call for proposals in August of 2019 and every year moving forward.
For this first award–because it has taken me a while to get my bearings back and because I didn’t have time to receive proposals, do the interviews and make decisions–I chose Sheroes Hangout because they so deeply inspired me.
Here is the video about Sheroes that I played at Taz’s Celebration of Life.
Thank you all for joining me on this journey of eternal connection, joy and love.
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her latest book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.