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Acid attack survivor Kavita Bisht on her journey of teaching differently-abled children

UTTARAKHAND:  I have never missed a single off day to visit and teach differently-abled kids in this school. I am just happy to be here among them. They don’t expect much from me,” giggles Kavita Bisht, 28. Behind that quicksilver laugh, however, Kavita bleeds. She readily admits to “have swung between life and death, hope and despair. I have been called names and been told that I am ‘helpless’. That I am not,” she asserts. Kavita can never forget that fateful day of 2008 in Haldwani. “I was 16 and walking with neighbourhood girls to school when two men on motorcycles started buzzing us. We paid no heed. Suddenly, I felt as if my face and chest was on fire. It was stinging, burning. I felt I had been choked. It was total confusion. I wanted to think, cry out loud. I could not; I fell, unconscious.”

Kavita had turned an acid attack victim in seconds. She would not feel the hue and cry around her as she was carried to the hospital, treated for months and told after a year, that she would see no more. Her eyes had been burnt out; her sight lost forever. “That day, when darkness seemed to have settled in my life, I vowed I will not sit back. And here I am,” Kavita says, laughing away the pain. Ask the neighbourhood about the bubbly, beautiful girl, to whom anyone could take to so easily and people recount the pain which she lived through to remove the pain around. Kavita is today a brand ambassador for Uttarakhand for empowering women and a volunteer who counsels acid attack survivors as well as differently- abled children at a school in Ramnagar of Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Working also with the Nirbhaya cell of the district, she is known to be quite forceful, logical and one who will hold no punches. “Women are violated, beaten, burnt with acid and face innumerable atrocities. The law needs to change,” she says.