If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too.
…Chilling words from the courageous Sonali Mukherjee, who recently won India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
What’s remarkable about Sonali Mukherjee’s story is that in April 2003, she was the victim of a horrific acid attack that left her severely disfigured and partially blind. Denied justice, she pleaded with the Indian government for permission to end her life—a controversial request in a nation where euthanasia is illegal. Denied this request, she vowed to no longer be a victim, but a survivor. She made a choice to stand up and scream and shout against the heinous crime of acid violence, most common in countries, such as India, Uganda, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, where social structures remain deeply patriarchal. According to Acid Survivors Trust International, about 1500 acid attacks are reported globally each year, 80% of them against women.
After reading this hauntingly inspiring story, I asked myself:
What’s the difference between those who remain standing amidst adversity and those who fall and fail to get back up?
In the context of this story, my answer is hope, solid foundation, and strong support system.
We learn from Mukherjee that winning “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” was the best balm for her wounded existence. Her victory and the outpouring of public support gave her hope to press on.
Additional keys to withstanding the huff and puff of life are a solid foundation and strong support system. Mukhurjee’s family was instrumental towards her recovery, having spent their life savings to treat her injuries. Being part of the National Cadet Corps also gave her the courage to fight all odds, including surviving her vicious ordeal.
So why are some people more resilient than others? What lies behind the extraordinary grit of Sonali Mukhurjee, Nelson Mandela, Victor Frankl, and countless others who have survived and bounced back from distressing situations?
The Bible describes resilience as follows:
Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8–9)
Resilience is an essential life skill. A resilient person:
- Has a solid foundation built on godly principles
- Has the ability to bend like a tree in the wind
- Knows that their life has purpose even when their circumstances say otherwise.
Sonali Mukurjee is a tremendous example of resiliency. In her words: “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face.” Rather than hide away in shame, she is determined to valiantly rise from the ashes and seek justice for herself and other victims of acid violence. Her story should be an inspiration to all of us.
- Acid Attack Victim Wins India’s ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- ‘Millionaire’ Acid Attack Victim Using Money for Surgery (abcnews.go.com)
- India Teen Commits Suicide After Police Pressure Her To Drop Gang Rape Case, Marry Attacker
- #India- Sonali Mukherjee Rises From The Ashes #Vaw #Acidattack (kractivist.wordpress.com)