Ed note. Indrani Goradia, Founder of Indrani’s Light Foundation, just concluded a trip to India to visit PSI-India’s pilot projects to combat gender-based violence. These are her reflections.
Laxmi strode confidently into the hotel ballroom where we were holding the launch of Wajood – a project developed in partnership between Indrani’s Light Foundation and PSI India to stem gender based violence in Delhi.
She’s slight, dressed in skinny jeans and unmistakable in her confidence, her beauty and for the scars covering her face and arms.
We had not exchanged a single word but I could feel the life and purpose flowing from her, and I loved her immediately.
A little later, we sat down to talk and with self-assurance and boldness, she shared her story. When she was only 15 years old, she refused the marriage proposal of a man twice her age in her New Delhi neighborhood. As revenge, the man enlisted his friend to help him punish her. At a crowded upscale market in India’s capital, the two men approached her and threw a glass of acid in her face.
Now at 23, after multiple surgeries, she is speaking out on the issue of violence against women and mentoring women who’ve experienced similar abuse. She is giving voice to victims and hope to women, and she is pushing for change.
There is something painfully beautiful about the human spirit that allows Laxmi to take such an unimaginable tragedy and turn it into fire and light and love.
Too many young girls and women share Laxmi’s experience. She’s determined to stop the cycle. I am, too. It’s why I am here in Delhi launching Wajood with PSI India. The timing is critical and the women I met are ready for change in one of the most dangerous places in the world for girls and women.
I leave our conversation restless, determined and impatient. Laxmi inspires my work and she challenges me to do more.
What one thing can we do today to help create change? It could be a simple as sharing Laxmi’s story.