“Break stereotypes, love yourself & follow your dreams”- My Take by Anmol Rodriguez
In My Take this week, Anmol Rodriguez, an acid attack survivor from Mumbai, shares her incredible journey from an orphanage to becoming an actor and a model.
I was hardly two months old when I was the target of an acid attack. The attacker was my own father. He threw acid on my mother while I was on her lap and some of it fell on me as well. She succumbed to her injuries.
This is how my life began. Some kind souls admitted me to a hospital where I was treated for my burns. No one came forward to look after me so nurses and doctors at the hospital took care of me until I was five years old. At that point, they sent me to an orphanage in Mumbai called Shree Manav Seva Sangh and this is where I spent the rest of my life.
I have no family and I don't know where my father is or if he is dead or alive. I heard that he was jailed after he attacked me and my mother.
Journey toward independence
From a young age, I was determined to earn and stand on my own feet. I did a graduation in computer applications and joined a multi-national company in Mumbai. I was very happy and excited and worked there for almost two months. One day, they just fired me. WhenI asked them why, I was told it was because my colleagues were uncomfortable seeing my face every day. After that, I struggled for over a year to get a job and that was a hard time.
Social media has always attracted me and I regularly put up my photos and posts. One day a photographer spotted my profile and asked me if I was willing to do a photo shoot. That opened many doors of opportunities for me.
Soon, I was spotted by a film director who cast me in a film called Auntyji. I had the opportunity to act with Shabana Azmi. After that, I did a few advertisements, including one for Kotak Mahindra along with the actor Ranveer Singh.. I am glad to say that I am following my dreams and chasing my passion. The struggle was hard. But now, I am totally loving where I stand.
Strength & determination
Being an acid attack survivor in India is very hard. I feel that people's attitude towards acid attack survivors must change. They show a lot of sympathy to you. But the same people deny you opportunities too. I wanted to work, earn and live my life but was denied the opportunity because of my face. This is something that never was and never will be under my control. At the end of the day, every human being wants to survive and eat some food. I had to struggle a lot to do that. Now, I am 23 years old and have already learned a lot of about life.
It is high time that people starts appreciating others for their ability, talents and skills. Just because my face does not suit you, why are you denying me of opportunities? Everyone wants to be loved, supported and respected.
Sometime back, I co-founded an NGO named Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation to empower and reach out to acid attack survivors. But I dropped the project because I realised that people had money motives instead of supporting victims. But I work with other NGOs that support acid attack survivors.
I have a few plans lined up for my future. I want to concentrate and be successful in what I do. I want people to promote their brands using my name. Like imagine that feeling where people would tell that they want Anmol to promote our brand! I also want to do more films and good roles as an actor. I believe I had good acting skills and hence I want to experiment with it. Basically, I want to be a jack of all trades and try my luck with everything that interests me.
I am happy that I had to undergo many struggles because that has made me a stronger and tougher person. I believe that everyone should help others because we all live together in this world. Instead of trying to put down people, it is important to lift them up.
Break stereotypes, love yourself and follow your dreams. Especially to acid attack survivors, never think that you are not beautiful. You must come forward and interact with the society as much as you can. There will be thousands of people to de-motivate you. But don't bother. Stay happy and keep working towards your goals.