In the name of Allah, the most beneficent and merciful.
We hope that this letter finds you in good health. Though 2011 was another page in the book of DSF, but what a year it has been. As you know that besides our rehabilitation efforts for acid victims, we are always raising our voice on different media platforms for the need to formulate strict laws against acid throwing. This year finally, our efforts bore fruit as the acid bill was passed in the assembly with heavy punishment for acid throwing. It is indeed, a big success for DSF, our friends who have supported us at every step of the way and most importantly for victims of violence. We also thank the governing bodies for giving this grave issue their special attention. With these laws in place we sincerely hope that this heinous crime will gradually reduce and eventually come to an end.
The acid attack may just seem like a word to many, but this crime is so brutal in nature, it just doesn’t disfigure the victim, it tears apart her soul. To go through that much pain and suffering leaves scars that are not easier to heal. At times a victim has to undergo multiple surgeries depending upon the severity of the burns. Medical treatment and follow up was arranged at CMH Rawalpindi, Jinnah Hospital Karachi, Family Health Hospital, Islamabad, Indus Hospital Karachi, Jinnah Hospital Karachi, Patel Hospital Karachi, and Fatima Memorial Hospital Lahore. The treatments included reconstructive surgeries, hair transplant, arms, hands, nose, eyes and neck surgeries.
After medical treatment DSF arranges vocational and professional training for the DSF survivors to enable them to be self supportive and be a normal part of the society. Beautician courses are offered through the courtesy of Depilex Beauty Institute. Other courses qualifying as nurses, telephone operators, bank officers, front desk managers are arranged through related institutes. Rabia Batool is an example in this case, after going through numerous psychiatric sessions and multiple reconstructive surgeries she has made a comeback to life. DSF trained her as a beautician. She is now working in Depilex Beauty Parlour. DSF also arranged her marriage and by the grace of God she is living a happy married life. DSF also supported Asma for her reconstructive surgeries and rehabilitation, and now just like Rabia, she is a confident and happily married girl. Another brave girl, Maimoona, who was a victim of violence at a very young age, completed nursing training and has passed the nursing examination. DSF bore all the expenses for her training, reconstructive surgeries and medical treatment.
In the past few years international media has grown by leaps and bounds, and Pakistan is no exception. Over 100 news and entertainment channels have made the general public more informed about the issues. Since its inception, DSF has given the media its due importance and has been a part of various campaigns, telethons and TV shows for raising awareness. These efforts have brought amazing response on a national and international level. Mr Milt from USA visited DSF and held a meeting with Masarrat Misbah to discuss a documentary about the lives of the girls and the difficulties they go through to get back to normal life. Canadian and Japanese journalists visited DSF and interviewed the survivors about their problems. Our national and private channels helped us raise awareness for our cause. PTV, Aplus, Dawn News, Express News, Geo News, ATV, ARY, Indus TV and Hum TV conducted shows to create awareness among general public for which we are once again thankful to them.
Educational institutes have always played an important role part in taking forward our cause. By raising the level of awareness among the students we can change the level of thinking of the generations to come. Most of the educational institutes encourage their students to conduct research on the lives of acid victims and the problems faced by them. DSF extended help in successful completion of their assignments. This year students from LUMS, UCP, Fatima Jinnah University, PECHS College Karachi and International Islamic University organized events and activities for raising awareness among students relating to the serious issue of violence against women.
Social clubs, celebrities and women clubs are also an important source of raising awareness in the society. My appearance in Faisal Qureshi Show, Umar Shareef Show, Alim Aur Alim, Behroz Sabzwari Show, Rotary Club Lahore, Sialkot and Sahir Lodhi Show were instrumental in raising awareness in social circles.
DSF has always voiced it concerns about the rising number of acid attacks in Pakistan. The need of the hour is to respond collectively and raise our voice as a nation, as only that will help eliminating this crime from the very roots.
When I started this journey of helping the acid and kerosene burn victims, I had no idea what would come my way. I started off with the determination to help these women live a life of their own and to bring the smile back on their faces. I knew it was a difficult road ahead, but I prayed to Almighty Allah to give me strength and courage to help these women regain their lives. By the grace of Allah Almighty the response was overwhelming; people from all walks of life supported our cause and still continue to do so in greater number. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for accompanying us through this journey of hope and smiles.
The year 2010 was another milestone in our journey, and by the grace of Allah Almighty this has proved to be a year of great success for Depilex Smileagain. Though I have been privileged and given many awards by various prestigious organizations and government institutes , but my life’s most precious moment came when I was awarded the highest civil honor of Pakistan; the Presidential Pride of Performance. I have no words to describe how I feel on being gifted by the award. I thank Almighty Allah who has bestowed his blessings upon me. I love my country and being awarded by the highest civil honor has further lifted my spirits and strengthened my determination manifold.
The year 2010 began in delight and this was a year full of joy for the survivors in Depilex Smileagain. As you all know that we are determined in helping the acid attack and kerosene oil burn survivors in every step of their way forward. We have been able to help DSF survivors getting married, who are now living a happily married life. This year 5 more DSF patients tied the matrimonial knot. The Depilex Smileagain team made arrangements for the events and happily attended the ceremonies. These were moments of great joy and satisfaction for the DSF team and the survivors as they started their matrimonial journey. We wish the married couples happiness in their lives and may Allah bless them with all joys.
Depilex Smileagain has always been supported by medical professionals all over the world but the doctors in Pakistan deserve a special mention, as they have volunteered, provided their services, and have helped us taking forward our mission in all thick and thin. In 2010, 19 patients were operated in Family Health Hospital Islamabad, Indus Hospital Karachi and Jinnah Hospital Lahore in the months of January, March, May, June, July, October, November and December. National Channel ATV was kind enough to partially support the operation of Shamim Ara, a DSF survivor. Other than the surgeries, several OPD sessions and checkups were carried out in Lahore and Karachi.
At Depilex Smileagain we don’t stop after medical treatment but welfare of the survivors is also our concern. We believe in providing them with resources that enable them to live their lives on their own, and that includes professional and vocational trainings. This year one of the DSF patients was given a computer and DSF paid all the expenses for her college education. DSF also sponsored the computer course training for two survivors.
Acid attacks don’t just destroy their lives, sometimes it takes away from them the light which illuminates their world; their eyes. Some women end up with partial blindness, but some lose both their eyes. Nasreen Sharif was one such unfortunate victim who lost both her eyes as a result of the acid attack. DSF is providing her a monthly stipend and is also helping her in establishing a business of her own.
Awareness raising and educating others about the nature and brutality of this heinous crime has always been a top priority for DSF. The campaign for enacting laws against acid attacks and open sale and purchase of acid continues in collaboration with our civil society partners. We are also thankful to our media for helping us in the awareness campaign. As a result of our awareness programs in both print and electronic media, journalists from Spain, Columbia, Japan, Holland and London came to Pakistan to conduct interviews of DSF survivors and patients. Our awareness programs were appreciated by Pakistan American Cultural Center (PACC) Karachi. Our special thanks to Geo TV, ATV, ARY, QTV, TV One, TV ALite, and Khyber TV for supporting our awareness raising campaign through interviews in leading talk shows. As a part of our awareness campaign lectures were also delivered at LUMS, Fatima Jinnah University and Zabit University. To spread awareness through electronic media two TV shows Zabtka Hosla and Khamosh Sadain were also recorded and aired.
We at Depilex Smileagain have always put DSF survivors before ourselves, and we have made their welfare our priority no matter what the circumstances. All of this was made possible with your efforts and we sincerely hope that you will continue supporting our cause.
Depilex Smileagain Foundation
First of all we would like to thank Almighty Allah for providing us with the opportunity to be the hope for so many women who had lost the hope of living a normal life again. When Depilex Smileagain raised its voice against the crime of acid attack some years back, we had only one goal in mind; to help the victims rehabilitate and to make them live their life again with a smile on their faces. We were encouraged by our friends like you from all over the country, and since then we have never looked back. We have helped numerous victims of acid and kerosene oil burns with reconstructive surgeries, psychological treatment, training and rehabilitation.
Patients from across Pakistan were treated in hospitals in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. Surgeries were performed on burnt patients in Family Health Hospital Islamabad, Fatima Memorial Hospital and Indus Hospital Karachi by local doctors and doctors from Italy and UK. Various post operation check up sessions and OPDs are regularly held in Lahore and Karachi. Since the acid attack is mainly targeted on the face most of the patients are receiving treatment for eye and skin related problems.
In some cases, unfortunately the loss of sight also occurs. In Feb 2009, both blind and partially blind patients from Depilex Smileagain were sent to Italy (Rome) for Brail Training. A very special thanks to the Director of Aziz Jehan Begum Trust for the Blinds, who in a meeting with Depilex Smileagain officials have agreed to help DSF Brail Qualified Teachers in providing jobs whenever there is an opportunity.
Rehabilitation of the victims has always been a main focus of Depilex Smileagain. Being able to earn a living for themselves and their families restores their self confidence. DSF patients received training in telemarketing; some were trained as telephone operators and beauticians.
International recognition for Depilex Smileagain is on its way. LA Channels production visited Depilex Smileagain for news and documentary coverage. DSF also made it to the headlines on the France 24 channels. Our efforts for the acid attack victims were also recorded by German TV for a documentary regarding the surgeries and vocational trainings. Masarrat Misbah, the CEO of Depilex Smileagain was interviewed by France 2 along with the victims who have been treated under the banner of DSF. Depilex Smileagain also featured in the National Geographic’s, “Don’t Tell My Mother” series by Diego Brunnel.
Youth always has been involved to play an important part in our efforts, and we have numerous support groups in different prestigious institutes all over Pakistan. Aitchison College volunteer students conducted an awareness event. Students from Punjab University conducted interviews of acid attack victims. Depilex Smileagain also offers internships to the students who volunteer either for helping in the welfare work or for conducting research on the life of the acid attack victim. 4 students from Lahore College of Women University undertook internships from June 2009 to July 2009.
Depilex Smileagain Foundation
2008 was the year of actions at DSF. By the Grace of God, we managed to help more victims than the previous years. 2008 was also the year DSF received unprecedented recognition for DSF the cause for which it stands. As always, I am greatly indebted to my team here at DSF, and to you all, for making what it is today.
The year started off with a huge milestone for us with the start of the construction of the premises of the International Centre for Reconstructive Surgery Project in Multan. This mega project is not only for reconstructive surgery but also Rehabilitation, Vocational Training & Shelter Homes for the survivors. This year will also be remembered for the vigor and enthusiasm seen wherever we went to highlight the cause of the victims. Be it the fundraisers in the United States, or the leading educational institutes in the country, or the memorable evening of Opera which was organized by the Rotary Club of Karachi Sunset Millennium to raise funds for the above mentioned centre. We would like to thank the Smileagain Supports Group (SAS) and all the students from BNU, LGS, Kinnaird College, Bahria University, Islamabad and Lahore College for Women, University for their tremendous efforts. The support and the eagerness to understand our work was heartwarming.
We also continued with the program we initiated last year in collaboration with Smileagain Italy of sending victims to Italy for technical training in various fields like nursing, specialized treatments to be used in beauty salons. This year, the doctors at DSF also initiated the treatment of implanting prosthetic eyes for our affected victims and we were able to send victims to Italy for training in Braille as well along with other fields.
We also had a team of doctors that arrived from the USA and took ten of our most severe burnt victims along to the States for their treatment. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the medical teams of DSF for their commitment and work, and their selfless dedication towards helping to improve the lives of the effected.
As you all know, the media has played a commendable role in highlighting the work that we carry out. I was invited by the Television Channel, "Antenna TV" in Greece to address the viewers and create Global Awareness about the plight of burnt victims. I also had the opportunity to bring forth the predicament of the burn victims and survivors in Pakistan on various Television channels such as ARY, TV1, AAJ, HUM, ATV, PTV, DUNYA, EXPRESS, DAWN, BUSINESS PLUS and CITY 42.
We are also excited to announce that Mr. Milt Alvarez, a renowned Hollywood director visited the DSF headquarters in Lahore and has expressed interest in making a documentary film on the work we are carrying out. Furthermore, we also received valuable recognition in articles that appeared in some of the leading newspapers and magazines in the world, such as Washington times, Vanity Fair, Grazia magazine and LA times and on various websites which includes BBC, CNN and MSNBC- YAHOO. To keep you all informed about the progress of DSF and the projects that we have undertaken, we plan on starting a new section on our website with links to all the articles, news reports and interviews that appear in the media. I would encourage you all too also inform others about DSF and the website, so that we are able to generate more awareness about our cause.
To date, DSF has 400 registered patients who we are trying to help out both medically as well as for their rehabilitation. But we still have a long way to go. DSF needs your help, in whichever capacity you can. From a historic year which saw the first Black present of the United States, I am reminded of the slogan of that very man who influenced millions and created history: "Yes we can!" - And together, we will!
Depilex Smileagain Foundation
2007 has been an eventful and momentous year for Depilex Smileagain. It was a year DSF grew by leaps and bounds. By the Grace of God Almighty and the magnanimous support of all of you, we have continued the upward trend that has become synonymous with Depilex Smileagain Foundation. It was a year of new experiments that paid dividends and helped us gain international recognition and acknowledgement for the work we have undertaken.
The year began on a high note with a Telethon that was held on PTV in January to create awareness for DSF and to raise funds. By the Grace of God Almighty, I am pleased to inform you all that we saw unprecedented support and donations. This was just the platform we needed to kick start our year.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Clarice Felli, President Smileagain Italy and Mrs. Stefania Pazzapane, President of the Region who extended their never ending support once again by collaborating with us for a new scheme under which ten female burn victims were sent to Paganica, Italy where they would receive technical training in various fields in three phases. The first phase was designed as per interest of the victims in a beautician course followed by the second phase of Braille training and the last phase would be nursing. Back home, similar initiative has been taken to train ten burn survivors in the art of gardening in Lahore to better equip them to earn their own livelihood.
It was a year where we took an initiative to create awareness about the NGO amongst students of different educational institutes, such as LUMS and Beacon House School System amongst others. I was moved by the enthusiasm and eagerness shown by these students and their determination to become a part of DSF. The same was seen during my trip to Italy where I visited three High Schools to create awareness about DSF and was promised unconditional support by the young students who took great interest in the work we are doing.
The deputation to Italy was, of course, the highlight of our year where a number of events and forums were held that we utilized to create awareness about DSF. One such event was the book launching ceremony held in Rome for the book titled "Sorridimi Ancora", an Italian language book which mentions the remarkable survival story of a burnt victim of DSF, Pakistan. During my trip, I also had the honour of an audience with the Pope at the Vatican and was also given the privilege of speaking on the Italian Television to promote DSF.
I believe that it is our duty to also keep our benefactors in the loop as to the different projects and events that the Depilex Smileagain undertakes. For this very same reason, I addressed a gathering of over 400 people in Dubai, with the Ambassador of Pakistan also present amongst the audience. This was followed by an appearance on the popular television show, "Morning with Nadia Khan" where the show was bombarded by live callers expressing their sincere support and acknowledgment for DSF. We also held a cultural show titled "Peace and Harmony" in Italy, which brought Pakistan in to the limelight and was attended and appreciated by all those who attended.
We are currently in the process of establishing DSF Dubai for which we have being assured unparalleled help by a number of influential personalities in the UAE, as well as the Council General of Pakistan and the UAE Government.
2007 also saw us entertaining our friends from the American chapter of DSF who were also accompanied by Ms. Abigail Hoya of the American Medical Missions and Ms Elisabeth Alex of NBC Television. They met with different burn victims and were also part of the mission which conducted checkups of old and new patients who registered themselves with the DSF. 2007 also saw the groundbreaking ceremony of the International Centre for Surgery, Rehabilitation and Vocational Training which was held at an acre of land in Multan which was generously donated to DSF by a philanthropist. We were honoured by the presence of the Honourable Minister for Social Welfare and Special Education, Ms. Zubaida Jalal who was the chief guest on this occasion. The French and Italian teams of doctors also visited Pakistan to conduct various surgeries on old and new patients and also conducted OPD at Depilex Lahore.
We have achieved a lot this year by creating awareness amongst people from all over the globe through electronic and print media which resulted in an increase of the number of patients registered with DSF, but I believe that this is just the tip of the ice-berg. A lot still has to be done. With your help, we can provide the smiles back again on the faces that had lost them forever...
Depilex Smileagain Foundation
We would like to keep you updated of all that has been achieved in the span of this year and some of the developments that will, God willing, commence this year. There is much to be done, but by the Grace of God Almighty, we have seen some significant progress. Even though it has been slow, we have seen a steady upward trend that has marked the work done by DSF in 2006 as philanthropists have donated both land as well as property where DSF can work from. An acre of land in Multan was gifted to DSF on the 20th of December. This was to put up a Rehabilitation and Reconstructive Surgery Centre. Yet another 250 sq ft of land was also gifted for the use of a free dispensary to be run by DSF, but for which Macter Pharmaceuticals will provide free medicines.
More good news for the NGO followed when two new premises were donated to the organization as rehabilitation and vocational training centers for their burn survivors in Lahore: A house was donated by Mrs Farhat Rafiq and this is being utilized as a residence and vocational training centre. Yet another philanthropist, who chooses to remain anonymous, has donated premises to be used for the same purpose. With these developments Depilex Smileagain Foundation begins the year 2007 with a Telethon that will be aired on PTV on 10th January 2007. This will primarily raise funds for the construction work that needs to begin in Multan and to equip the above mentioned properties in Lahore.
Even as we step into the New Year, the Italian team of surgeons visited Paksitan in January for high level meetings with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the Italian Ambassador and to attend the Disaster Management Conference at Convention Center which is to be held on 12th January.
With the year starting with some major activities, we look for your support to ensure the success of this organization. Please help us in our endeavors to help burn survivors. Do check out our website and our Progress Report 2006.
Depilex Smileagain Foundation