Prerna Gandhi, a teenager still, is an inspiration in herself. Her story of showing strength, grit and bravado in the face of atrocities is a story that needs to be told. An acid attack survivor from Rohtak, Prerna is studying in the US and is currently in India. The 19-year-old spoke at an event in Noida yesterday about her mission of bringing back love and acceptance to the lives of other acid attack survivors as she has gone through tough times and clearly knows what one has to deal with.

“Just like me, there are thousands of women all across the world, who have been ostracised by society because they have been disfigured. I want to send the message that with love and acceptance, we can heal the scars of these women,” Prerna said at the event.

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She talked about her own healing process and said that it took her five years to heal emotionally and physically from that catastrophic incident which changed her life completely.

It was with Gracie Doll’s help that Prerna could get her normal life back and come out of the miserable situation of isolation. Gracie is a 14-year-old who studies with her in the same university and is also her foster sister. She encouraged Prerna towards positivity and brought her out of the shock and stigma.

Prerna Gandhi
Prerna Gandhi (Pic by by STP)

Gracie, who was also present at the event, said, “When I saw Prerna for the first time, I realised that the right side of her face is disfigured. When Prerna looked back at me, she felt uncomfortable and started crying. I decided then that I am going to be friends with her. It took time but slowly our awkward small talks turned into effortless and deep conversations.”

Studying in an undergraduate course in Business Administration from University of Cincinnati, young Prerna had no idea how her life would change when one fine evening she was getting back home from her tuition on her friend’s scooty. Two men came out of nowhere and threw acid on her face. Later, it came to light that Prerna was not the target, but her friend who was sitting on the pillion. The guys were targeting her friend due to some family dispute. Prerna was just 14 when this happened in  2011.

“No matter at what stage you are or how you look, always remember that you are valued and above all you have an identity. Never be ashamed about it because the actual healing will eventually come from within”- Prerna Gandhi

This was also the time when acid attacks were not discussed as widely and it took Prerna’s grandfather and parents every ounce of their courage to fight to get her numerous surgeries done, not to forget the lakhs of money spent. However, the real light of hope came when one of Prerna’s maternal uncles talked to a hospital in Cincinnati and they agreed to take her case free of cost. Finally, she went to the US and not just got her surgeries done but also raised funds for herself and got an admission in a college to study further. Truly, an inspiring story.