She lost her eye and most of the skin on the right side of her face after she was attacked with acid by a man she rejected. "Sheila" spoke to Circa Cares from Haryana, India about her hopes to join the list of patients whose faces have been repaired by the charity, Face Forward.
Face Forward was started by Dr. David Alessi and his wife Deborah, to provide physical and emotional reconstruction for victims of gender violence. With the help of volunteers, they've been able to repair the faces of more than 70 patients.
My attacker threw acid on my face and chest. I couldn't see anything. I was just screaming.
"Sheila" is not revealing her true name and covers the least damaged side of her face because she's still hiding from the man who did this to her. She says he was her boss and targeted her after she refused his advances.
At each court appearance she has to prove she's a victim. She has to prove that she didn't give him a reason to do this to her.
Getting disfigured has changed her life dramatically and left her ostracized from her community. The charity in India, Make Love Not Scars, is helping her recover as she continues to fight for justice, in what they say is a biased court system.
Mrs. Alessi says 'Sheila' is a perfect fit for their services. They choose patients, like the the domestic violence survivor pictured here, who will have the endurance to get through multiple surgeries and then pay it forward.
How can you help?
"Sheila" is in the process of getting her medical visa to fly to the U.S. for surgery. Face Forward is looking for a host family for six months, as she will not only get a prosthetic eye fitted but will also need several surgeries to replace and repair the skin on her face, and each will require recovery time.
One case can cost Face Forward up to $100,000.
Dr. and Mrs. Alessi donate their time which cuts the costs for each patients by tens of thousands of dollars, but they still have to find enough money for the transportation, surgical supplies, other doctors and assistance, operating room, recovery care and more.
Please contact them directly at this link if you know of someone who could use their help or if you would like to assist their efforts in helping victims of violence who've been disfigured.
Why statistics are missing for acid attacks in India
There are no statistics for acid violence cases in India until 2013 because the Indian criminal Law did not recognize it as a separate offense until February of 2013.
Many cases are never reported for fear of further retribution. The victims of acid attacks are overwhelmingly women.
This information was provided by Acid Survivors Foundation of India, where you can find information about acid violence and reported cases.
Circa Cares is always looking for stories about people and organizations working to make a difference in their communities. Email email@example.com, or feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out some of our other Circa Cares stories from our LA bureau:
This young autistic man is helping others with autism by giving them the gift of music.
His charity is called Rex and Friends.
Joe Gagnon ran six marathons, on six consecutive days, on six different continents ending in Santa Monica, CA. It was all in an effort to raise money for the education of underprivileged children in developing countries. Click here to help the charity CHIME IN.
A young woman in downtown LA is helping homeless women across the country maintain their dignity and have a "Happy Period."
Her organization Hashtag Happy Period collects feminine sanitary items to pass out to women in need.
He's known as the Hollywood Superman and was one of the first street characters on the boulevard. When Christopher Dennis fell on hard times, his fans saved him from homelessness. Watch this story to see how he's paying it forward and how small acts of kindness can make a difference.