Acid attack survivors gear up for new innings as beauty professionals

Published on Aug 16, 2022 03:05 PM IST

The beauty chain salon will provide free-of-cost training to the acid attack survivors for their skill uplift and help them set up their own businesses

Rupali Vishwakarma (L to R ), Kunti Soni, and Farah Khan posing with victory signs and T-shirts with the message, “My Beauty is my smile”.
Rupali Vishwakarma (L to R ), Kunti Soni, and Farah Khan posing with victory signs and T-shirts with the message, “My Beauty is my smile”.
ByAakash Ghosh

LUCKNOW: Farah Khan, an acid attack survivor, is excited. She and some other acid attack survivors in Lucknow working at Sheroes Hangout, a cafe run by acid attack survivors in the state capital, will soon get training to be beauty professionals and then some help to start their own business.

On August 8, the Sheroes cafe announced its collaboration with Naturals—a beauty chain salon with more than 700 salons across India. A CSR (corporate social responsibility) partnership was also announced on the occasion wherein “Naturals” signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chhanv Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs the cafe.

The beauty chain salon will provide free-of-cost training to the acid attack survivors for their skill uplift and help them set up their own businesses. “Currently, five girls will undergo training at our professional institutes in different parts of the states. The duration of the course will be 6-8 months depending on the nature of training,” said Deepak Kumar, North head, Naturals.

“Putting on make-up always fascinates women. I liked getting ready and doing make-up a few years back till my husband destroyed my face with acid, and my life changed,” said Farah, who is also the sole bread earner for her seven-member family.

“Having my face partially burnt, I gave up hope of seeing myself in the mirror. But after years of fighting my insecurities, I’ve emerged as a strong woman today; I wear make-up like any other woman and am even interested in making other women beautiful,” she said.

“We have trained many specially abled people with our ‘Naturals’ enabled’ CSR scheme which proved successful in Chennai. In the north, we had no such scheme, so I thought of coming up with this idea when I went to Sheroes one day, and it took a few years to materialise,” Deepak Kumar added.

“We also invited many salon owners from Lucknow and other cities, who were overjoyed and eager to accept these girls once they finished their training,” he said.

These courses are expensive, with the cost ranging from 70,000 to 1 lakh. “We knew these girls came from underserved populations, so we decided to make it free of charge,” Deepak Kumar said, adding that along with professional skill training, women at Sheroes are being provided with a nail art studio kiosk with an investment worth 15-26 lakh. Two-month training will be given to them to start operating the kiosk.

“Nail art is in demand these days, and so is the beauty parlour industry, ” said another acid attack survivor Kunti Soni, 28, from Lucknow.

With a keen interest in make-up, she is excited to be chosen as among the five women to undergo professional beauty training.

“I also worked with actor Deepika Padukone in the 2020 film Chhapaak,’’ she said.

Kunti was attacked by her drunken husband in 2011 for walking out of the marriage due to her husband’s alleged affairs with others.

“I want to become a make-up artist in future,” said Rupali Vishwakarma from Ghazipur district. She was a film artist in regional movies in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia when she was attacked in 2015 by an unidentified person. The attack completely damaged one eye of Rupali and left the other with 40% vision.

“I’m the first girl from the village to come out and work. After the attack, not only did my glamour career come to a halt, but I was also abandoned by my family. I was thrown out of my house and left to die,” she recalled.

“After I joined Sheroes, I got some motivation. Though I’m working here and have a good time, make-up is something I have always admired. I even do a lot of make-up and don’t bother about people who laugh at me,” she adds.

“I have already started watching a lot of YouTube videos to understand the basics. I’m extremely excited to join the beauty academy. By learning the art of make-up, I want to give those young girls confidence with my brush. Through them, I want to see myself and achieve what I couldn’t,” Rupali said.

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