Acid attack survivors feature on calendar

Acid attack survivors feature on calendar

Beauty has been redefined by acid attack survivors who are now ready with a new venture- a calendar that features victims of horrific attacks.

The calendar has been launched to commemorate the third anniversary of the 'Stop Acid Attacks' campaign and is an initiative of 'Chaanv' an NGO.

"The idea was generated from the debate on the true meaning of beauty and society's present mindset of understanding the definition of beauty and misjudging those who have somehow lost their physical beauty," says Ashish Shukla, one of the members of Stop Acid Attack Campaign and Chaanv.

Unlike typical calendars, the calendar titled "Bello" that features 12 acid attacks survivors begins from the month of March 2015 and ends in February 2016.

The photos of the survivors portray their dreams which have been halted due to the heinous attack.

The photos for the calendar have been clicked by internationally acclaimed photographer, Rahul Saharan whose photo shoot in the past of the acid attack survivors Laxmi, Rupa, Ritu, Sonia and Chanchal drew attention from the international media. The calendar's cover photo has been designed by Shukla.

"We are releasing the calendar on March 8, which is also our Foundation Day and the next edition of the calendar will be released exactly a year later.

The photographs are taken by Rahul Saharan and also one photo each has been taken by a Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts and a Mumbai based photographer Surbhi Jaiswal," says Shukla.

The Belgian photographer says he was very excited to be associated with the campaign. He considers it to be a perfect example of how people fight with their fate to change their condition.

"For me this seems to be a perfect example of people in society who fight for their rights and recover from the bad things that happen in life," Pascal says.

The calendar is also scheduled to be launched on social media as well aims to "reach out to about 100 million people around the world to know about this one of its own kind of celebration of beauty."

"The photoshoot which is being released on the International Women Day aims to create awareness. If the people keep this calendar at home, they would point at their acceptance towards the survivors.

Further it wants to portray the dreams of the survivors who come from varied backgrounds and have gone through a lot in their lives," Rahul Saharan told PTI.

The month of March portrays a picture where the survivors are seen enjoying and marks the happiness after the gloomy days. April shows Laxmi Saa as the role model for all the other survivors.

Laxmi dons several hats and has anchored a show on a TV news channel, wants to be a singer and has also been awarded the prestigious International Woman of Courage award from US First Lady Michelle Obama.

Having acid thrown at her and her mother while she was just a 3 year old Neetu from Agra wants to be a singer whereas her mother Gita says she wants to be a chef and has been currently working with the Sheroes Hangout in Agra, a cafe started by the Acid Attack Survivors for their rehabilitation.

January features Dolly who was attacked by her jilted lover and wants to be a doctor but could not achieve her dream because of the unfortunate incident. Rupa wants to be a fashion designer and is all set to open her own boutique.

The month of May features Sonia who runs a boutique in Ghaziabad to sustain her family and is now training with a celebrity hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani who is also associated with this campaign.

Meanwhile the NGO says it plans to reintroduce its 'Social Volunteering Network-Paltan' where not only social activists but also ordinary people can become volunteers to contribute to the noble cause.

"Social Media is one of the most important aspects in our lives and has been affecting us daily. Keeping this in mind we have tried to connect to maximum number of people through it (social media) ever since our inception.

We are trying to reintroduce this with a few changes where there would be exchange of knowledge and skill growth for volunteers. Also the volunteers will be rewarded for their work to further motivate them. A ranking facility will be available to access their social growth," adds Shukla.

Campaigners say they have themselves taken the initiative to reach out to the survivors in the different parts of the country.

The campaigners have come out with a 'Reach Out Mission' to document 300 acid attack survivors to reintegrate them into the mainstream society.

"We are launching 'Reach Out' Campaign where we would try to reach out to the survivors. At present around 50 survivors are associated with the campaign.

We aim to reach out to around 300 survivors and help them by giving them a platform to live their dreams which have been disrupted due to an unfortunate event," says Ashish.

The funds raised by the sale of the calendar would be used for the rehabilitation of the acid attack survivors in India.

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