Charity seeks to help acid attack survivors gain skills to realize their beauty and to help others do the same.

Acid attack violence is a world-wide phenomenon and its victims are mainly women and children. The attackers use acid to disfigure their victims, in the evil hopes to restrict them from leading a full, independent life. The results of such violence cause not only physical pain but psychological trauma and social repercussions. Many victims are left with no legal recourse, limited access to medical assistance—for neither their physical or psychological wounds—and without means to support themselves.

LA College of Creative Arts is working hard to give these women support to rebuild their lives. The college’s charity, Beyond Skin Foundation, aims to create the first academy for acid attack survivors in India. The charity will train these brave women how to cover their scars and to become make-up artists so they can create a career for themselves and pass on their knowledge to others.

There are three elements to complete this program, according to Lola O’Neill, founder of Beyond Skin Foundation:

Element 1

Lola O'Neill, founder of LA College of Creative Arts and Beyond Skin Foundation
Lola O’Neill, founder of LA College of Creative Arts and Beyond Skin Foundation

“We will be working with female acid attack survivors based in Kolkata. The initial part of the project is to teach them how to rebuild the face. It involves using a specialist product that can cover scarring and rebuild eyebrows and lashes. It will also involve using the highest quality wigs that look like real hair. Not only does the process restore confidence in their own appearance so that they can be seen as a normal part of society, it also allows them to present themselves in a professional manner for their future careers and employment.”

Element 2

Acid attack survivor
Acid attack survivor

“Beyond Skin Foundation will then train the women in professional make-up artistry, which will result in an internationally recognized certification. We will specifically train them in special occasion and bridal artistry including hair and nails. There are over 10 million weddings in India each year allowing the students to graduate into an area with high employment. They will be trained to the highest level by a team of international and award-winning make-up artists from Europe and the U.S. The team ranges from Academy Award winners to TV presenters to industry leaders. Not only will it involve the best training but it will give the project an opportunity to gain the considerable attention it deserves.”

Element 3

“The third and final part involves working closely with these amazing women. Whether they choose to start their own businesses or secure employment in the beauty industry, we will give them interview techniques, assertiveness training, professionalism, financial management, client building and basic English language classes. Through local links with Bollywood, elite salons, microfinance providers, doors will not only open to employ talented alumni but crucially, will fulfil social responsibility for their organizations. This project is a unique opportunity to rebuild the lives of women who have been, so cruelly, dealt a devastating fate. It will ensure they can be given a future of hope, fulfilment and financial independence.”

The Project:

First group of women in the LA College of Creative Arts project to be trained as make-up artists
First group of women in the LA College of Creative Arts project to be trained as make-up artists

The ultimate aim is to re-build confidence in these women and help them secure employment. O’Neill has over 12 years’ experience in the fashion and beauty industry. The charity started training survivors of domestic violence in make-up artistry and beauty four years ago. The tutors and students volunteer for two weeks to train the women.

O’Neil has funded similar projects herself many times, but she can no longer afford to do so and is looking for help this time around. This next project, focusing on acid attack survivors, officially starts in November 2018 in Kolkata, India. The team is working hard to procure the funds to fully support their vision. Currently, the charity has raised $25,000. Their goal is $100,000.

There are two ways people can support Acid Attack Survivor: First is to volunteer for two weeks to train the women in make-up skills for all levels. Rebecca Rachael, Gladstone Colodetti, Kym Menzies-Foster are all international artists who have joined the cause. But O’Neill says they need more volunteers more than anything. However, another way people can help is by making a donation to help launch the project. Even sharing this article/project on social media will help, says O’Neill, “The more people that know about it the better.”

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