A dime a dozen youngsters choose educational careers due to peer or parental pressure. Many pursue their studies without any enthusiasm of learning such subjects. But few handpicked ones quickly identify their strengths and tread a path the intuition guides them to. Ms. Ria Sharma also was not different from current generation youngsters who wanted to earn fame and name in a glamorous career in the fashion industry. She completed her International Baccalaureate program from Pathways Schools which laid the foundation to pursue Fashion Technology course abroad at Leeds College of Art. Though her college days were colorful in friends’ company, she wasn’t completely satisfied with the pursued course. In many get-togethers, she used to rhetorically claim that social-service is her intuition and would love to write and get identified as women rights activist. But her friends used to brush aside these claims as just-time-pass talks. But by the time she reached final semester her inner drive to fight for women rights intensified. She took permission from her teachers and came to India to create a documentary film on acid attack victims, next what happened is the turning point in Ria’s life.
Documentary Making at Hospital in Bangalore
Back home, Ria visited a hospital in Bangalore where acid attack victims were treated. She started interviewing these victims for her documentary movie. As she learned harsh reality faced by these victims her initial motive to make a documentary movie about these people dried up. She was convinced that making a documentary is not a real solution for their problems. The decision to start a rehabilitation center for the acid victims of entire nation germinated in her mind. Thus ‘Make Love Not Scar’ was born as a non-govt organization based in Delhi in the year 2015.
Modus Operandi of ‘Make Love Not Scars.’
The organization was started to fight for the cause of acid attack victims with four objectives viz. Medical support, social support, mental support, and rehabilitation support. Initially, the most challenging aspect for Ria was to build a strong network to identify victims from even the remotest part of the nation. She started a volunteer scheme called ‘Buddy Stream,’ through which a strong team of youths was formulated to reach out to any fresh cases of victims. These volunteers operate with the objectives of creating awareness of their rights and facilities provided by Govt. Also, they educate victims about facilities available from ‘Make Love Not Scars.’ The volunteers have a strong network of Lawyers, Hospitals and Police Stations across the nation so that any fresh cases of attacks are instantly gathered. Often they also conduct campaigns to educate people about first aid that can be extended to acid attack victims in their vicinity.
The organization operates by crowd funding mechanism and has not taken any Govt. funding for its operation. With the help of volunteers, the organization is able to raise a fund of approximately 1 Crores INR through online crowd funding campaigns. Most interesting aspect is none of the volunteers are paid for their service, and all volunteers bear their expenses on own.
As we are aware, acid attack is most horrific and violent act that can shatter a person’s life. Ria and her team conduct various therapies to rekindle confidence in such victims. Art therapy, Yoga sessions to handle distress are prominent among them. A support system is extended so that each member can extend their support to other peers. English and Maths classes are arranged to up-skill these victims in fetching a job. Even her organization has tie ups with entrepreneurs who help these victims to become financially independent in society. The organization succinctly prepares these victims to fight the legal battle by providing them with proper legal advisors and bears all medical expenses. Ria urges Govt. of India to make acid inaccessible to common man through their campaign #EndAcidSale. She also has plans to conduct a global conference on the issue of acid attacks by gathering complete statistics of such victims. She has filed a Public Interest litigation (PIL) in the supreme court of India pleading for better medical facilities for acid victims.
Team with Ria Sharma
Ria Sharma has a strong team to back her up in the form of Mr. Bharath Nayak, a mechanical engineer and founder of logical India social media page, Ms. Shaheen, MBA in Marketing by qualification and works part time with human rights law Network in Delhi and Mr. Bhagirath a financial professional who joined hands with Ria Sharma to support acid attack victims after heinous Nirbhaya rape incidence happened in Delhi.
Ria Sharma who is still in the early twenties points out that ageism is one factor that comes in her way to convince people of her intentions to fight for the cause of acid attack victims as many people try to brush aside her words, by getting biased with her small age. But she quickly adds that her determination finally convinces most of them.
Kalam Fan Club is proud to feature this post about a girl who has given up the glamorous career of fashion design with a sole purpose of fighting for the cause of women rights and acid attack victims.