Volunteer stories

Shabina Begum, Management

ASTI Experience

I was made aware of the work of Acid Survivors Trust International in 2010 when I was involved with a charity that was considering working with victims of acid attacks. I travelled to Bangladesh in 2010, as part of BRAC UK’s professional volunteering programme and during the course of the internship I visited Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in Bangladesh.

I was initially shocked at the horrendous physical impact the attacks had on the women, namely the faces were disfigured and skin and bones on the hands dissolved. I was moved to tears in an instant when I saw Durjoy, a young child age about age 4 or 5, who had his mouth and throat completely ruined after being fed acid.

After meeting the women, children and the service providers, this experience left an impression on me. ASF is a safe haven which treats, supports and rehabilitates survivors of acid attack, the organisation also radiates in hope and positive energy, as it has united many who had lived through immensely shocking attacks and provided them with a sense of community and a new found identity.

As I walked out from ASF with a smile from that realisation, I returned to the UK and heard of Islamic Help’s ‘Smiles Better’ campaign, which is a project which provides funds to allow ASTI to continue supporting survivors of acid attacks. I attended the dinner where I saw how a victim like Katie Piper coped with her attack in the UK.I then heard Dr John Morrison, OBE, the CEO of ASTI speak and I was moved by his conviction, commitment and dedication towards the cause and have since wanted to be more involved with ASTI’s work.

Dr. John Morrison OBE at Bollywood Quiz Night

Fundraising

As ASTI has a strong international network and an effective system in place. I felt the best way to support the work was to hold a fundraiser to raise money for the existing work ASTI conducts.

In October 2011, me along with my colleagues (Rahela Begum, Lepina Begum, Faiza Sheikh, Majid Rahman, Sadaf Tach and Masum Hoque) planned, arranged and executed an ASTI Bollywood Quiz Night. The aim of the fundraiser was not only to raise money but also awareness of acid violence as an issue and the great work that ASTI is conducting. With the support of a dedicated team of volunteers, it was successfully an enjoyable evening with good food, great entertainment and an amazing amount of approximately £17,000 was raised!

We had many supporters on the night who left and wanted to also do their own events for ASTI. One team pledged £10,000 and decided they wanted to hold mini events and fundraising initiatives in order to raise that amount. The held an ASTI Tea Party and I was invited as a guest to speak about my experiences and why I support and volunteer for ASTI. This was a very heart-warming event and I thank those volunteers for their hard work and effort and wish them the best in fulfilling their full pledge.

In the first week of January 2012, I along with a couple of friends (Rahela Begum, Seema Khalique and Arfa Syed) held an ASTI New Years Party, which was a fundraiser on a smaller scale, but a boost to start the New Year with ASTI and its great work in mind. This was greatly enjoyed and supported by the attendees.

Future Work

With the desire to be more proactive in this battle to eradicate acid violence, I am about to undertake research on acid violence on the legislative impact on deterring and punishing the crime. I have been awarded a Travel Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and I am planning on travelling to Pakistan, India, Nepal, Cambodia and Sri Lanka throughout the course of 2012, for the purpose of this research.

I want to express a huge thank you to the team of volunteers who worked so tirelessly and assisted me in organising the Bollywood Quiz Night – which started as a small idea and you all helped it turn into a HUGE reality!

I would also like to thank everyone who has supported the fundraising activities which I have arranged on behalf of ASTI and for turning my attempts into successes. I hope you continue to support my efforts, but more importantly continue to support ASTI.

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