At the side of the tree lapped CH Area main road in Jharkhand’s steel city, Jamshedpur stands a quaint, cozy and unique tea lounge- La Gravitea. The cafeteria serves 105 varieties of tea from around the world, along with breakfast, lunch and drinks, although, the most distinct feature about the cafeteria is their initiative to empower women with hearing impaired, few of them with Olympic medals in their kitty.
The cafeteria, in an attempt to defy all odds and stereotypes, has employed 7 deaf and mute young women. One of the employees, named Guruveer Kaur is a proud Gold-medalist in Badminton at the Olympics for specially-abled, 2015, while, another employee named Suggi is a National Athlete and has won several accolades. Despite their accomplishments in the field of sports, these women were previously unemployed and were on hunt for a job.
Avinash Duggar, the owner of the restaurant, an ex-vice president of Kohinoor Steel, shared his inspiring story of meeting one of his deaf and mute employee at his tea kiosk, which he had put up for trail before starting the lounge.
The encounter with the deaf and mute girl persuaded him to develop this unique and inclusive business model. Duggar says, for him La Graviteais equivalent to realizing a dream.
All the special employees at La Gravitea expressed happiness through their gestures and sign language, on being a part of this unique enterprise.
Interpreted by the employer, Guruveer Kaur, who has one Olympic gold and two bronze medals to her name, said that she is dismayed by the way people overlook achievements of special Olympic players. “Our struggle to win laurels for the country is no less challenging than our normal counterparts but one can see the disparity in the treatment meted out to us,” she said.
Sharing similar feelings, Suggi Kumari, another employee who has won more than 50 medals in athletics at various national meets for special players said that they were utterly disregarded and looked down upon despite their tall achievements.
Monika Kumari has just won a national gold in Badminton and would be representing the country at the Special Olympics in Seattle, USA.
“I am blessed to have these talented people running the entire show, right from cooking to serving,” said Duggar, who has a plan ready to employ at least 100 more deaf and dumb girls in a business venture he is set to launch soon.
He said all these girls need a little bit of training and grooming and they are there to deliver in the best possible manner. Duggar said it is unfortunate that the entire nation went gaga over the silver medal achievement of P V Sindhu at the Olympics while no one even recognizes Guruveer who has won gold in Olympics in the same sports Sindhu plays. “Forget honouring, nobody employs them. This is their first job and they all are simply wonderful empployees,” he said.
La Gravitea is planning to set up cafeterias in Ranchi soon, at the airport and railway station with the sole purpose to employ differently abled girls and empower them in the process.