“My hopes for the future are that one day, the organisation that I worked so hard to build doesn’t have to exist at all. Because that would mean we were successful in putting an end to acid attacks altogether,” Ria Sharma said at the UN Global Goals Awards where she was felicitated for her outstanding contribution to the social cause. It is Ria’s unfaltering attachment to the cause that drove her from her career in fashion designing to the space of social impact.
Ria was studying at the Leeds College of Arts in England when she decided to make a documentary film on the lives of acid attack survivors. It was not a random decision but a result of being deeply disturbed after she saw a picture of a survivor. Instead of forgetting the face with a sigh of pity, she decided to be a part of the cause. Ria came down to India to shoot her documentary film and reach their voice to the world. But after meeting them face to face and knowing their story, the young lady was determined to do more. She launched her organisation ‘Make Love not Scars’ (MLNS) with the sole purpose of helping, supporting and reintegrating the survivors in every possible way.
Ria and her team at MLNS, since its inception in 2015, have been working towards providing a holistic platform to acid attack survivors by helping them fight off roadblocks that go beyond their physical pain, like being ostracised, jeered at or regarded incapable. At the rehabilitation centre they connect the women with other survivors, extend legal and medical help and also offer therapies through dance and yoga to cope with the trauma. To empower the women and make them job ready, MLNS provides training on English and basic math as well as connects with leaders and entrepreneurs to help the survivors become financially independent.
Ria has triggered a drive through her numerous campaigns to raise awareness about the issue of acid attack and the survivors. The # SkillsNotScars is one of MLNS’ laudable endeavours to promote the exclusive job portal for the survivors and the ongoing petition #EndAcidSale a consorted step to eradicate the heinous crime. Here’s wishing Ria and her team all the best!
Image credit: aajtak.intoday.in