KULSUM SHADAB WAHAB
Hello! India|April 2020
HER JOURNEY WITH ACID ATTACK SURVIVORS BEGAN WITH JUST ONE PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH A VICTIM IN A HOSPITAL. TODAY, WITH THE HOTHUR FOUNDATION, A LOT OF HER EFFORTS ARE AIMED AT HELPING SURVIVORS WITH RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERIES, THERAPY WORKSHOPS, EDUCATIONAL AND FINANCIAL AID. DURING THE ALL-INDIA LOCKDOWN, HER FOUNDATION HAS ALSO BEEN SUPPORTING WAGE WORKERS AND WOMEN AFFECTED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
SANGEETA WADHWANI

How has the Hothur Foundation been helping vulnerable wage earners during lockdown? What other crises do you see?

“Minimum wage earners have been hit severely, and for them, every meal is uncertain. We have been supporting them and their families financially. We have sadly also been hearing the terrible news that domestic violence cases are on the increase amidst an already serious pandemic, a grave issue we must fight together. We are helping victims with financial aid, shelter and counselling over the phone. Quick and effective action is paramount.”

Kulsum, what first drew you towards focusing on acid attack survivors? Was there anybody close to you who underwent a traumatic incident?

“I have been working with disabled kids which needs me to visit hospitals... On one of my visits to the hospital, I first saw a terribly burnt woman. I went up to a nurse and asked her about it… and learned she was an acid attack survivor. I went up to her and said ‘Hello’. But she became nervous and rushed out of the room. Disturbed by her plight, I contacted the hospital and tried reaching out to her. For weeks, she wouldn’t answer my calls but in the end, she overcame her reservations and agreed to meet me. She confided in me, telling me about the challenges in her life, from being ridiculed, to not being able to find a job. She confessed not being able to pay for her rehab surgery, and even being ostracized by her family. The whole incident made me feel terrible for days. I wanted to work towards the upliftment of these innocent, brave women.”

How easy has it been to raise funds towards rehab surgeries?

“The high cost of rehabilitation surgeries makes it difficult raising funds, however charity is always better collectively. We hope to involve more people to join our cause to raise awareness about the devastating crime.”

Tell us about how Ara Lumiere shaped up… do the lovely headpieces have the support of the elite in India, as well as philanthropists outside India?

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