Café for a cause: The Cafe Run by Acid Attack Survivors
Close to the Taj Mahal, in Agra, India is a small café run by acid attack survivors. The women walk with confidence wearing white shirts with ‘STOP ACID ATTACKS’ written in bold red color at the back serve the visitors who come from all over the world to support the warriors. Sheroes Hangout is a crowd-funded café, pay-as-you-wish, with contributions going toward the rehabilitation of survivors of acid violence in India.
The five women employed at the café share very similar horrific, spine-chilling stories of the attack and the dejection that followed. Rupa and Kumari work alongside Ritu Saini, Gita Mahor, and Neetu Mahor. The women, according to TakePart, lived a secluded life until they found Stop Acid Attacks on Facebook and learned of its initiatives, one of which included Sheroes’ Hangout.
Sheroes’ Hangout provides them with the financial stability to gradually move away from their assailant and gives them confidence to lead a normal life.
Acid Attack Survivor debuts for a Bollywood film
An acid attack in 2008 robbed Kavita Bisht of her eyesight and her face was left disfigured but this has not stopped the determined 25-year-old from realising her dreams. Bisht is all set to debut for Dilkhush Rishidev’s upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Crazy Lamhe’. The movie is based on the lives of acid attack survivors from across the country.
Bisht told TOI, “I am excited to be a part of this movie because it will spread awareness among people about the physical as well as the mental agony that a woman undergoes due to acid attack and on top of it the indifferent behaviour of society makes things worse for her. I had given my consent to get featured because the movie promises to show acid attack victims in an empowered and motivating role.”
Acid Attack Survivor studies at New York fashion school and interns with Manish Arora
Monica’s journey started 10 years ago, when she was a budding model in the first year of her degree in apparel design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, in New Delhi. An incident that followed left her skin burnt with acid and changed her life forever. It has taken over 46 reconstructive surgeries to recover. Monica Singh is now studying at top New York fashion school Parsons, which boasts alumni including Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs. She was a great performer and was soon interning for renown Indian fashion designer Manish Arora.
And in January 2014 she went one step further when she was accepted to study fashion marketing at Parsons.
Monica told dailymail: ‘My passion has always been to make people feel beautiful, like princesses, and hopefully in New York I will get the opportunity to prove what I can do.’A crowd-funding campaign was launched to raise $50,000 (£32,000) to pay for her fees and she finally started in August 2014.
Lounge cum Spa run by an acid attack survivor in Agra
Ghaziabad’s Sonia Chowdhury’s face was battered by a heinous acid attack in 2004. She was then employed at a private salon. After so many years, Sonia is ready to begin a new life. She is soon launching a lounge-cum-spa in Agra. The upcoming spa-cum-lounge will also sport a cafe-lounge set up in the front with the customers getting a chance to avail facilities of salon and spa. It is the next initiative of the survivors who have established ‘Sheroes Hangout’ café.
Online Shopping for a cause: Acid attack survivor’s label to be launched at snapdeal
Rupa is a 21 year old acid attack survivor- entrepreneur and designer. Her designs are showcased at Sheroes Hangout, Agra. A Dream of becoming a designer seemed far-fetched, however, Instead of hiding her face behind a scarf, she went out and launched her own label. She is now setting up an online store at www.snapdeal.com to aim at a bigger audience who support the cause but cannot be reached directly at the store in Agra.
Beauty of the soul- Acid Attack victims walk on the ramp and face the camera!
An acid-attack survivor in India has been made a model for a fashion brand, drawing attention to the crime in the country with one of the highest rates of acid violence in the world.
Laxmi, who goes by one name, features in an advertising campaign for a new range of apparel from Viva N Diva in an initiative the company said is aimed at raising awareness of those who have lost their physical beauty to acid attacks.
A video clip titled “Face of Courage” shows Laxmi being made up and then striding down the catwalk while smiling at the cameras, her scarred face in focus.
In another event, last year, Acid attack victims were photographed by Rahul Sharan in Rupa’s clothing collection called Rupa designs. The 41 photos show 22-year-old Rupa and four friends laughing and striking playful poses while wearing some of her fashion designs.Photographer Rahul Saharan to get involved and together helped the girls feel confident enough to be photographed. Rahul, who worked free of cost for the shoot, added: ‘I kept telling the girls “don’t let others tell you what beauty is, you yourself are beautiful, every woman is beautiful”.’
Beauty Salon helps acid attack victims become self-reliant
In Lahore, Pakistan, An entrepreneur has opened a beauty salon to help rehabilitate the female survivors of acid attack.
Mussarat Misbah founded the Depilex Smile Again Foundation to help victims become self-reliant members of the community following their horrific ordeal. The foundation’s aim is to provide the women with medical and psychological care and help them gain confidence and employment. Over the last decade, Misbah has helped around 600 women, with most electing to be trained as beauticians. Aneesha Zoya and Bushra Shafi are both acid attack survivors who work in the salon.
Aneesha told Dailymail: ‘After this tragedy of getting burnt, I had a feeling that I am not the same person anymore. I stopped venturing out of my house. I stopped meeting people as well. I stopped attending any gatherings and functions.
‘After coming here, Mussarat Misbah helped me a lot. First she made me undergo surgeries for my face and then I did a course to become a beautician.’
Bushra added: ‘After coming here, my life changed completely. She taught me confidence. She taught me how to face the world.
‘She made me believe that I have the ability to cope with anything and anyone. It boosted my self-confidence so that I could lead my life in a better way.’
Acid attacks continue to be a problem in Pakistan, with women burned for everything from having a female child to offering too small a dowry.
‘Beauty tips with Reshma’: Beauty tutorials to ban sale of ‘Acid’
DIY(do-it-yourself) channels are very popular on YouTube. DIY channels upload beauty, makeup and art tutorials usually featuring women with glowing skin and high cheek bones. Having said that, YouTube channel ‘Make Love Not Scars’ has been uploading beauty tutorials with a bit of a twist. Channel has released a series called ‘Beauty Tips with Reshma’ where you can see a heavily-scarred but completely undeterred acid attack victim in the videos, showing how to apply the perfect liner with the confidence of any beauty blogger.At the end of their videos, they inform us how these beauty products are easily available in the market, but so is acid. In a bid to ban acid from being available in the markets, the campaign ‘Make Love Not Scars’ has partnered with Ogilvy and Mather to reach to a wider audience with these videos.
You can reach all the organisations working for Acid Attack Survivors
Photo Courtesy: Dailymail