On the 7th of March 2016, 20 survivors gathered under one roof with multiple volunteers, professionals from all walks of life and well wishers to help Make Love Not Scars, an NGO for acid attack survivors, launch their first of its kind rehabilitation centre in New Delhi. The centre which is based in Lado Sarai was inaugurated by Mrs. Swati Maliwal.
Swati Maliwal with one of the survivors
Founded by 21-year-old Ria Sharma, Make Love Not Scars was launched in April 2014 as an organization to help the acid attack survivors in all aspects of rehabilitation.
How will it help
Rehabilitaion centre will be a space for survivors to feel comfortable. Classes of yoga, meditation, Brail, computer and English classes will be conducted to help them learn new skill, which will ultimately help them build their confidence.
We believe that these classes and specialised training based on each individual survivors needs will create higher chances of them gaining employment in the future. The center will also provide counselling for the survivors to help them redevelop the confidence that was once stolen from them. Survivors of acid attacks are constantly plagued by stigma because of which they cannot be accepted into society. It aims at making the survivors highly educated and skilled to stand a chance at earning a dignified living in the near future. Survivors will be able to seek help regarding all aspects of their attack, including medical and legal.
What survivors have to say
Reena Pal was pursued by a 30-year-old man when she was 19. Despite several rejections, he persisted, forcing her to move to Delhi with her father. But on a visit to the village to sit for her exams, she was twice attacked with acid. “My attacker told the police that he still loved me and would marry me if I agreed. Why would I?” she asks.
Many others at the centre have similarly horrifying stories. Being together gives them some strength, which this rehabilitation centre tries to achieve.
Survivors sharing moments with each other
Not only is the centre the first of it’s kind but is the labor of love of various companies like Magneti Marelli who have come together to support our cause of rehabilitating acid attack survivors.
Survivor Sheela said “This feels like our own world, where we can learn anything we want without stigma, hesitation and unease. I feel like there is hope for the future now that we have a space where we can have a second shot at living our lives as well as earning a dignified living. We used to feel like that we have been sitting in one place for years, behind closed doors. People used to come and go but for the first time we feel like someone has extended their hand and wants to move forward with us not just behind closed doors but someone actually wants us to strive for greatness in public. I believe we will find our place in society again.”
While the number of acid attacks in the country are increasing, We hope such facilities will make sure that survivors get immediate help and support. It is time to eradicate the stigma.