The students of Delhi University’s Miranda House college are on a mission — to rehabilitate acid attack survivors. Stuti Agarwal, along with seven other students of Miranda, are helping one such survivor, Soniya Choaudhry, set up a beauty salon, which they would call Astitva. They’re crowd-funding the project Jazba, in association with the NGO Chaanv.
Soniya was a professional beautician when attacked with acid in 2014. She recently featured on a TV show, where tennis player Sania Mirza helped her with money for her surgery.
“My family isn’t financially stable. All the money has been exhausted in my surgery. I stopped undergoing corrective surgeries as I want to become a famous beautician. After surviving the acid attack, I opened a parlour at home, where my neighbours were my customers. But I don’t want to limit myself,” says Soniya, adding, “I want to employ others too... Not just acid attack survivors, but also the victims of domestic violence.”
The Miranda House students feel that the acid attack survivors suffer “for no fault of their own”. In fact, when these students organised street plays at Dilli Haat, to spread awareness on acid attacks, they were surprised to see that many didn’t even know about tragic incidents in the city. “Half of the people present there were unaware of acid attacks that still take place in our society. And the foreigners were shocked because till then they thought that acid was supposed to be used only in science labs, not as a means to take revenge,” adds Agarwal.
When the students decided to help Soniya, they thought of working on a business model as part of Enactus, to empower the acid attack survivor. “We conducted a survey to know if people will like to go to a a salon, which is run by acid attack survivors and received a positive feedback because all they were interested in was quality services. This gave us the courage to go ahead with our plan,” says Dindi Padi, another Miranda House student, who is associated with the project.