When Ria Sharma was in the third year of her graduate programme at Leeds College of Arts, UK, she returned to India to make a documentary on acid attack survivors.
While filming it, she interacted with a lot of survivors who touched her heart and inspired her to do something about it. One thing led to another, and that’s how her organisation Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) was born.
The organisation actively supports and rehabilitates victims of acid attack throughout the country, and also raises awareness of the issue. Through MLNS, it is also ensured that the victims get free-of-cost treatment at all hospitals, which has been ordered by the Supreme Court.
They also receive government compensation and legal aid to hire lawyers and fund their legal battle against the accused.
Last year, they opened a first-of-its-kind rehabilitation centre for acid attack survivors in New Delhi – something that Ria is very proud of.
All her efforts were acknowledged on Tuesday at the UN’s Goalkeepers awards ceremony.
Ria, who is now 26 years old, became the first Indian to receive the Leadership Award at the 2017 Global Goals Awards on September 19 in New York. Her award was handed over to her by Priyanka Chopra, who is the global Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Through their job portal for acid attack survivors, MLNS also provided a platform for the survivors to interact with employers and get hired. They display their talents and skills on the portal, and urge organisations to find a suitable employee.
“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 said in a video uploaded by The Global Goals.
The Global Goals Awards are awarded to honour and celebrate individuals with extraordinary stories, who have contributed considerably towards achieving UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
They are celebrated in the presence of global leaders, philanthropists, non-profits, and important personalities from the field of politics, entertainment and education.