We want to thank you for being a part of our journey so far. If you have been following our work and supporting it, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and if you are new, welcome to the MLNS family! Over the years we have wanted nothing more to make you a part of our movement and have cherished every donation, small or big. Your funds have gone a long way and have funded surgeries, counselling and rehabilitation amongst many other things. Your donations have made a difference and have saved lives.
Today we are launching a campaign to support our biggest project, our rehabilitation centre that serves as a home for our brave survivors. The centre is a crucial project that not only provides survivors with skill and vocational training but is also a safe recovery space for survivors post surgery. We also house survivors that are trying to escape abusive backgrounds and are in dire need of being independent. The centre employs some survivors and helps other survivors gain meaningful employment as well.
In its 2nd year now, the rehab centre has become home for many survivors and a safe haven for survivors that wish to continue their education and recovery. Recently, however, we have realized that we are running short on funding to keep the project going. We realize the direct implications this will cause on the lives of many and hence are reaching out to you for help. We have always been well supported by our followers and well-wishers and hope that this time around, you will help us save a project that means so much to so many. You can read more in-depth about the project below.
Make Love Not Scars is a registered Indian non-government organization that focuses on the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors from all walks of life. Operating under the trademarked name of Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) and registered name Brave Heart.
Till date, Make Love Not Scars has rehabilitated over 60 survivors through our rehabilitation centre in New Delhi.
In March 2016, Make Love Not Scars launched India’s first-of-a-kind rehabilitation centre for acid attack survivors in New Delhi. The survivors we funded surgeries for were distressed with a lack of disposable income, burdened with debt, dreamt of completing their education, wished to gain justice at court and needed a safe space to recover physically and psychologically. We launched the centre in 2016.
Since the launch, the rehabilitation centre has acted as a point of contact between MLNS, the survivors' other stakeholders such as donors, hospitals and medical advisors, legal advisors, journalists, volunteers and foreign media. We’ve realized that the centre is a reflection of our progress and has only helped our cause expand.
Below are some of the activities that take place at our rehabilitation centre in New Delhi:
Vocational and skill training
After discussing the availability of time with our survivors, it was decided best to launch weekend classes at the rehabilitation centre. Every weekend, the survivors come to the centre for a whole day’s lessons in English, dance and Yoga and now, computers. We obtained brand new laptops from Dell and each survivor has been assigned a laptop to study and learn on.
2. English Classes
We have an English teacher on our payroll who comes for four hours a week to give survivors English lessons. The survivors learn vocabulary, grammar and Basic English conversational skills in order to be better equipped in any job role they may wish to take up as well as complement their higher education. Sapna, for example, is enrolled in distance learning classes for her undergraduate degree and receives English tuition to simplify her educational needs. Reshma is also undertaking a 3-month extensive English language course in Mumbai before she enrols in a university that has already agreed to admit her this year.
3. Computer Classes
The Internet is a powerful tool and we are training survivors to sell the items they make online. We have allocated a brand new Dell laptop to each survivor in Delhi and are hiring a teacher to teach them basic software such as Microsoft Word and Excel as well as how to use the internet to create their own unique digital voice. With a computer and English skills, the survivors are better equipped to get higher-paying, dignified jobs.
Apart from basic education, we also collaborate with university projects and entrepreneurs to deliver skill training. As of now, the survivors are immersed in two collaborative projects:
Project Três was started by Carla from Brazil when she realized just how economically underprivileged the women in India were. She quit her job in Brazil and moved to India full time. Now, she works with disempowered women and trains them to create jewellery, bags and other accessories from recycled materials. The survivors at MLNS make wooden necklaces from recycled wood and Carla purchases back each necklace from the survivor for Rs. 200, which is further resold in India and abroad. Project Três was also named as a movement to watch out for by none other than the globally renowned environmentalist Rob Greenfield on his 2,500,000+ follower base on Facebook!
• Enactus Delhi
We have collaborated with the Enactus Chapter from Delhi University. The undergraduate students have trained the survivors on how to make government-approved dishwashing liquid from used oil. Oil is collected from large-chain restaurants in bulk and converted to soap, which is further resold to restaurants and malls. The soap is packaged and the survivors receive Rs. 800 for 40 bottles of soap.
We believe that hard work deserves to be benefitted from. While we have a strict policy against giving cash in hand for personal expenses, we do believe that the survivors should earn a livelihood to support themselves. Our success will truly be measured on the day that we cease to exist as a reflection of the fact that there is no need for an organization like Make Love Not Scars to exist in our society.
However, in case future circumstances result in the closing of Make Love Not Scars due to unforeseen circumstances despite there being a need, we do not wish to see our survivors struggle to make ends meet. As a result of this, we focus on collaborations that ensure that survivors receive a fair payment for their work. With Project Três, the survivors receive Rupees 200 per necklace they make and through Enactus D.U., they receive Rupees 20 per bottle of soap.
Apart from that, initially we realized that our survivors were inconsistent in attending their classes. Upon inquiring why we discovered that many travelled far distances and the cost of travel was expensive. To ensure that the survivors can make it to their classes without being under stress, we pay them Rupees 600 for every day that they attend classes and come to the centre to work on their businesses and products. This also leaves them with some disposable income on the side, and they are free to focus on their education and skill training. After all the cruelty they have witnessed, these small sums of money truly help them move forward in life. Every month, through the businesses and classes at Make Love Not Scars, the survivors are able to earn anywhere between eight to twelve thousand rupees as a side income.
Dance and Yoga
Survivors receive therapeutic dance and yoga classes from Urban Clap. The teachers donate their services and the survivors especially enjoy the dancing.
We receive requests for volunteering from numerous psychologists and counsellors. On the weekends, our volunteer counsellors come in for one-on-one sessions with our survivors where our survivors speak about their troubles, challenges and small wins. By lending them a non-judgmental and understanding ear, the team also receives feedback on how the survivors perceive their progress, which allows us to cater to our rehabilitation activities based on their inherent desires.
Small business incubator
Post #SkillsNotScars, we realized that the offers provided to our survivors were going to limit their potential. Although the survivors received interesting employment opportunities, the salaries were often less than what was required by the survivors to step out of crippling poverty. As a result, we have begun to train survivors in running their own small businesses.
The survivors are currently trained in making hand-made candles and design their own cups. In the two weeks since the inception of the project, we have already sold over 40 candles! 80% of the profits go to the survivors whereas 20% is channelled into expansion by buying new materials and discovering new avenues of sales and product lines.
The rehabilitation centre also has a fully functioning kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms to provide safe accommodation for survivors who need it. Survivors from out of town who require surgeries in New Delhi recover at the centre post-surgery with a full-time nurse at their beck and call. Studies show that 90% of burn survivors who die from non-fatal causes such as infections. Our centre is a clean, hygienic environment where survivors have the least chances of gaining infection.
Apart from care post-surgery, we also offer rooms for survivors who have been attacked by their own family members and have nowhere to go. Until we can help them come up with a safe solution or put their family members behind bars, we provide them with accommodation. Recently, Meer foundation provided a survivor with surgeries. Her own husband and sister had attacked Kanta and as a result, we could not allow her to go back to that environment post surgery. She stayed with us at the centre until she was fully recovered and willing to file an FIR against her attackers.
The centre also hosts international volunteers from Australia, the UK and the U.S. In August 2017, we hosted the extremely inspirational and globally recognized burn survivor Melanie Grimsley from England at our centre. She helped us in raising funds for our survivor’s surgeries through her network and will help us with our internal processes and marketing strategies in the future.