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Braveheart Pragya Prasun instils a new ray of hope in the lives of acid-attack survivors

By auther pic. Abhisikta Dey

February 12, 2021

Braveheart Pragya Prasun instils a new ray of hope in the lives of acid-attack survivors

Atijeevan Foundation

Ms Pragya Prasun, an acid attack survivor turned activist and social worker is a renowned name in the social sector. Barely twelve days after marriage, Ms Pragya Prasun set forth to New Delhi from Varanasi to pursue a career in apparel management, but destiny had something else in store for her. In an act of vengeance by a jilted lover, she was acid attacked at midnight while she was asleep in the train, which left her in pain. The burns were quite deep in the chest, hands, back and face, which could be treated only with multiple reconstructive surgeries spanning over a period of more than two years.

 

The entire tenure during her treatment in the private or Government hospital-like Safdarjung in New Delhi, was an eye-opener for her as she could see a huge number of patients brought in a very sad state without any family and financial support. After having spoken to a few of the survivors, she realised that moral support in such cases help in faster recovery of the patients. With her entire family’s support throughout the tenure of her treatment, she was able to recover faster and initiated the conception of the NGO named Atijeevan Foundation that was devoted to the treatment of the burn victims. Several awareness and counselling sessions were organized at the rehabilitation centre, which was a ray of hope to the victims.

 

Atijeevan Foundation, the rehabilitation centre for the acid attack victims was established to provide them with a fresh lease of life. It aimed to bridge the gap between the survivors and the society so that they could traverse their journey of life with same comfort and respect of that of a common man. The empanelled doctors and other caregivers tend to the victims with utmost care, while finances and other critical reconstructive surgery costs are taken care off by the organization. Pragya Prasun is the guardian angel for hundreds of acid attack and burns victims as she arranges free surgeries and non-surgical treatments through her NGO. With individual and corporate donations, Pragya has been instrumental in funding critical surgeries of 250+ victims from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi-NCR to give them a fresh start to life. From skin grafting to hair transplant and even critical reconstructive surgeries⁠—Pragya tries to finance all the crucial surgeries and medical costs for any survivor. This organization helps the victims become financially independent while providing a free scar treatment to any acid attack victim who approach them for help. It also helps create awareness about the importance of skin donation and skin banking, whereby the skin is collected from eligible deceased donors and processed as per international protocols. The collected skin can be stored in the skin bank for up to five years, while being used for patients who have deep, chemical, electrical and radiation burns. Wounds of the burn patients are treated quickly using donated skin.

 

Regular motivational and counselling sessions for the families of the victims are pertinent for their faster recovery with proper knowledge and awareness around the same. Several workshops to help depression victims are also organized here. Her guidance and insights in treating and motivating the victims were indispensable in helping them recover.

Though the NGO was set up for a very noble cause, there were a lot of inhibitions in the beginning as this initiative involved a huge cost and most of the relatives and acquaintances in the hospital were quite sceptical as to how would the NGO function. The main challenge was how to gather manpower in different parts of the country and how and whom to approach for funds. Initially, there were just five lady volunteers in different states who came forward selflessly for meting out support in every possible manner.

 

There has been no Governmental funding till date. With each state having different regulatory norms, it becomes very difficult to retrieve the delegated compensation that each woman victim is entitled to. Corporate funding was negligible as they were more interested in women-child upliftment activities but not into treating medical issues.

 

However, some philanthropists and smaller organizations have come forward to raise funds, while paying for the surgery costs for any victim directly to the empanelled private or Government hospital, after considerable discounts. Since some specialists are needed for plastic or reconstructive surgeries, it is very important for them to have a mutual understanding and faith to treat the victims on a positive path to recovery, as there is a general lag time in between from the time the patients are admitted till the time they are being operated upon.

Apart from arranging funds, the major challenge faced is how to motivate the victims to lead a normal life once again after the trauma. Family’s eternal support at each moment is very important for the victim, for which the family has to be counselled and motivated on how to handle this grievous situation while facing the society. Regular workshops or closed burn group meetings are held in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, where the family members and the patients are invited to explore all the possible livelihood opportunities for the victims. Doctors are called to explain the entire process of the plastic surgery and the expectations the victims should have after the surgery. Industry experts are called for skill trainings which help them become entrepreneurs, thereby leading a life of dignity. Volunteers move around the city sharing success stories to inculcate the will to live amongst the victims. The rehabilitation centre provides motivation and support required to instil positivity in the victim’s life to make them believe that life has not come to an end.

                                                                                     

 

Though she had her family support, but at times it became difficult for her to explain her plight to her minor children. There were instances when the kids had to face a lot of ordeal amongst their peers, but the way Pragya handled the situation was commendable. Her contribution towards the society made her a true hero in real sense to her daughters, as she explained that these accidents happen in life but what is important is how one fights and emerges out victorious, while helping others too. She has been a source of inspiration to her daughters and all the other victims as its important to love yourself while embracing the change, as life has to move on.“It is not the end of life and find happiness for yourself” – has been her piece of advice for all the victims, who have been trying hard to accept the bitter truth.

 

Last but not the least, the society at large can help these burn victims by donating their skin as a single donor is capable of saving the lives of 3 burn patients. Since there is no match required for skin donation, anyone who is an adult can donate their skin and if done within the first 72 hours of the accident, it will help heal the skin within a month, ruling out chances of infection and the mortality rate. There is no awareness about skin donation in India and only 2% of the requirement is fulfilled here. Thus it’s very important that more people pledge to donate their skin to the burn victims to give them a new lease of life.

 

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Impact-Story is a series on development and CSR interventions leading to some impacts on the ground. If you have a project, innovation or intervention that has changed the lives of a few people or a community, please share a brief note at shilpi@csrbox.org. Our Team will get back to you after validating the information for a detailed coverage.

 

Also Read: Manjari Foundation: Sowing Seeds of Strength to Empower Rural Women

Author

Abhisikta Dey Ghosh is a business research and content professional for the last 14 years with leading brands from the industry. Her interest lies in authoring and weaving stories to foray into people's mind and hearts, thereby creating an ever lasting impact. Brand creation and management have been her forte using few magical words supported by language. A Master's Degree in Finance and Marketing with a passion for literature and language has certainly given her a huge platform to merge her educational expertise with passion, par excellence. Currently Abhisikta works as a Senior Consultant for Strategic Content and Research with Corporates, Edu-tech firms, CSR Foundations, Travel companies and Fintech majors. Abhisikta has a keen interest in music, dance and going on family adventure trips.

 

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