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Episode 6 : Conversation Transcript

Alex 0:38
We got the questions. We saw that there was some engagement, but due to some technical Instagrams able to access them. We're not sure if it was because we're in the US and obviously bass ranges based and we got Monique here.

Alex 0:59
Because based on being based in in Europe we didn't know. Oh that was. We weren't actually able to see your comments so we're gonna ask you a big favor if you are here for us from yesterday, please feel free to post your questions once again, in the comments section.
Last 15 minutes of the conversation like usual, but sorry for the inconvenience but we are happy to be here and happy to engage everybody. Including you, Monica.

Monica 1:38
Hi!

Alex 1:44
Hi, how are you?

Monica 1:49
I'm good, good. I'm excited today. I loved our conversation last time when I was like okay this time we have to talk face to face. So we can actually see our laughs, I'm hoping we could have more laughs today.

Dydine 2:12
I know. It’s so nice to see you. And thank you for saying yes to this, so we can share your story and your wisdom to more people.

Monica 2:26
I will do my best.

Alex 2:31
Injury last time last time we had a conversation yeah yeah no we're excited for you to be here. It’s a great Sunday. And yeah, so are you ready?
Well, if you didn't know, we told the audience but we're going to talk to you for about 30 minutes and then for the last 15 minutes if there are audience questions which there were before. Yeah, we're gonna engage the audience and they'll be able to ask you some of their personal questions.

Alex 3:06
All right, so you were born in India, right? So what was that experience like for you?

Monica 3:11
It's colorful and exciting. I mean, they're always everywhere. It's like you have to follow your tradition and custom but then I know like it's coming from you guys like of course you don't know but it was my home, you know like growing up in your home with the comfort and understanding of everything, and of course a lot of intervening you know like people are always very much interested in everybody's life and what they're doing or not so I always had this idea and then, you know, like how every other country has this pressure where you are like, okay, people are watching society goes on to talk about it so we had also had the same thing. But we had a very, I would say that in today's world very organic and sustainable life, kind of a thing. We grew up in a way where we know that we need to work hard to get better and something like that so you know like working hard getting a good education that was how I've been raised. And I think that's the thing I know, basically you know like using education for the better purposes like being made a wise person and you know like my parents always taught me, “No matter whatever you become you know if you're not a good human being and if you don't have a right mindset, it doesn't really matter”. So I always used to focus on like I want to be a better human being I want to be the best version of myself, and so that was all about. And then, of course the love from my family was always there unconditionally.

Dydine 4:55
Love from a family is everything.

Monica 5:00
Yeah. That's your foundation for everything, you know.

Dydine 5:07
Absolutely. At the age of 19 you experienced a horror, I will call it a horror, because it was, you know, an acid attack that changed your life and you know when you're 19, all your dreams of becoming your own adult, you have all these plans. How did your life change from that incident?

Monica 5:34
It's a whole upside down, you know. Like someone you are living your life the way you want it. You have your dreams, ordinary dreams, extraordinary means whatever you have, and you're minding your own business, and suddenly your dreams and your life get interrupted you know. It's like the story's been written in a certain way but then somebody changed the narrative of it. And then being a woman you know how society sees you. You know, it's all about like, okay, she's a girl and now she's completely deformed and then she's all burned and her life is done you know like she's done and that kind of an angle.
And, but the whole point of when I was. I've been a patient for like, almost like nine years, because I had to come and back and forth to the from the hospital and everything. And like you guys mentioned, like this face is after 46 reconstructive surgery you know and then I've learned my ways to move it around and you know put on a makeup in a way in which I look normal so. Suddenly when you are naturally born in a certain way with the look, and everything and now you are fighting for getting everything back, so that people don't see you differently you know. Because acid attack case is not about like the mental mental and psychological but we also have the visible physical harm, which is visible to anyone and we kind of like you know give people a lot of curiosity and then people are getting inquisitive like “What happened to you? What happened to you?”, you know, that kind of thing. But being the patient I was in a trauma center for many months and where I've been told by many other renowned doctors that she will not survive. But they were very clear about that because the percentage and amount of my body has taken that acid burned was a severe and, but as a patient when people are talking about you and you are lying on your hospital bed, you don't know what what is, they're talking about, you know. All you want to do is like win that battle, we'll just do that. And since I wasn't aware how deep it was from as a patient or as a human being. For me it was like, it's a burn, it'll getting better and then I will go back to my college and continue my education and something like that. So my whole focus was always been like I have to finish what I started. I have to finish my education I did my best to get into those colleges and then I have to finish that thing.
But then, in all like doctors came and then my dad came to me and then they were, they were saying that you know you should tell her or ask her what she wants to do and all like, because things has changed for good, you know forever. And I don't get me two choices, stay home and getting support from him unconditionally, or else. He didn't mention the second part. It was like, “what else do you want to do?” And I said, “Okay, I'm not dying without an education or without a degree” so I have to get back to my education.
So help me to get better soon so that I go back. That was the whole idea was always been and that’s, what my dad says, “that's what I wanted to hear from you”. And then he did his best in his own capacity to get me as normal as possible. Or, at least, you know, the whole process was learning how to speak again, drink again, eat again and started recognizing people again you know. Because I got into trouble where I started losing memory of certain things.
So whatever I did and I joined my college after one year break. And I went on a wheelchair or I had to climb staircase and everything and it was a delicate situation but then you know I always believe there is a light after a long, dark tunnel. So the whole process of nine years was my dark tunnel where I'm going step ahead. I mean, you have no choice you have to move ahead right you can't go back, you can't change the past so I was more dedicated to working on, I have to get better. This is my present and I want to make sure that I am going to get my future at least at some places where I don't lose myself completely, you know.

Alex 10:23
Yeah, yeah. And again, we spoke previously a little bit about this, but the strength that it takes to not only go through what you had, during it in that's as challenging, but to realize that you still have a future, that you're still here and that there's still things to accomplish, you know. I can't imagine wanting to go back to college and still consider education to be one of the top of my priorities.

Monica 10:57
Yes, but then fortunately because I studied in college where people are like creative side you know like we were from the design background and then we kind of get trained and educated to think and have a better perspective toward everything. So I think that helped a lot in many ways. And we see that people are always...we always try to see wrong in people you know, the negative part in people but then I always believed that if I'm a good person if I will be good the other person will be good to me. So, and then at some point in your life when you suffer from something like this, nothing really matters, you know. You don't need that society, you don't need people to, you know, verify your existence in the world. It's all about, “what do I want? Am I answering to these people? Are they going to take care of me forever?” No. So why do I care what they think and even if they are bad mouthing anyone, it doesn't matter as long as it's not coming to my ears do whatever you want. I mean just be who you are because now since as a woman, you lost your physical appearance you lost a deformity and then you became a disabled, you know, medical terms in many ways.
If your mind is working education is what I could get, you know. I studied fashion, you know, then the fashion industry is very much about beauty and appearances and everything so it was a lot of people say, like “oh my god you know maybe fashion industry is not for them.” I was like, “okay you know what I studied hard to know fashion and I think I'm gonna redefine fashion in my own way” and that's who I am because if I've been taught. Well, I can redefine my own structure about the fashion and the silhouettes and the style and everything that's what I did. And the people who hire me because of my resume and my work, rather than rejecting me because of my face I don't want to work with them because I don't need those people around me. Those will make me feel bad because I have enough already on my plate I don't need another person to tell me like no I'm not and I'm like come on like seriously? You want to hire me as an assistant designer? Hire me based on my work, not my face. I mean eventually my hands are working not my face is working. I'm trying to be you know front desk person or face of your company and everything. So basically, there was always a time that I have to choose myself and my mental health over the top of what other people think. So my society became very narrow, and I selected people who are going to relate with and I made my own community. Whereas, if you cannot dwell with my community take yourself out.
Life is too short for me to please everyone you know like I've been up on my head you know the guy and good and not. And I don't need to hear from third person to tell me like okay. So, we have 7 billion people like, go ahead. do that whatever you want it to be the other person. Probably I’m not your person... So I’ve always had this idea to have good people always around.

Alex 14:39
That’s a good thing to keep in mind, you know, just keep things in perspective. And like you said, keep people who love you and appreciate you for you, around you. You don't need a massive circle of people, of enablers or whatever. Keep your people close to you and people's care people need something significant.

Monica 15:06
Definitely. There is a checklist for people now...Welcome to Monica Singh’s club. A very exclusive club!

Dydine 15:25
This is just random wasn't even part of the questions we were planning but in my mind I'm thinking, because a lot of people ask me the same question. But, but for me I went through a genocide at 4. So having formed my reality, yet. But they always asked, “do you think your life would have been differently or would you have been a different person if you have experience genocide?” So for you, if you didn't experience, what you did at 19 years old. Do you think your world and who you are, would have been a little different?

Monica 16:05
Okay, so usually what I have noticed in people, they want to tag as a victim, because they want to see what you are. But then I also say that the victim has a “period” sign in front of it. But as a survivor, there’s a “comma” because being a survivor means we keep going. And then people going to say is like, “Oh can you imagine if this didn't happen to you? What would have happened I was like?” I mean, I didn’t imagine right now what will happen next in my future. And our I'm married but...nevermind, but the whole point.
How can I say what would what would have been? It might have been more normal. At a certain age you get married you get two kids or one kid or whatever you are, you’re nagging, you become a nagging wife and you are like damn you didn't let me fulfill my dreams. Because the whole thing is, these experiences are unfortunate, yes. But then it should not be always something. You're story, your scars should not keep you away from your ultimate goal and design and dreams right? I have a scar all over my body in the face, and then if I wanna get depressed and thinking about all those things all the time like I couldn't get depressed anytime. But then I believe it was more waste of time.
Because it's like every been three, four months I do feel depressed I've been like everyone in my age move ahead, they have someone in their life, or they have kids or something like that. I do feel that sometimes. It’s just natural. If I don't, then something is wrong with me but I do feel those things.
But the whole point is I get a good amount of every situation, every mental state comes in my mind. I've acknowledged that. I don't fight against it because it's unnecessary to fight against what you're feeling right now. So I feel like okay, I'm depressed I'm gonna cry. I'm gonna cry for two hours and then I feel like oh my god I wasted two hours just for crying for nothing because nothing is rectifying anything. You are not getting back your two hours that you are thinking about would have happened and you are thinking about “What if I do this?” and it could be a better future, or I can best makeup my present. So people ask, they all continue to ask and then I chose to tell my story to them... You’re curious? (Points to face) yeah good. Very nice. I don’t care anymore.
Unless I see feel I need to tell this person. I just don't tell it unless until somebody says like go, we were curious so I see that. Okay, these are the curious so they just want to know, and they're gonna get drained and get out so I'm like yeah, nothing happened to me. Important people get to know.

Dydine 19:36
That's amazing. I really love that answer.

Alex 19:40
I do too and it kind of goes into... we talked a lot about victimizing ourselves and sort of that whole process that goes around that. I guess that kind of segues into our next question about forgiveness, about your healing journey and your journey to forgive. Does that play a significant part in the whole victimizing and victimization of yourself?

Monica 20:12
And the thing what happened to me, it wasn't like a terrorist attack or something where I don't know my assailant who did this to me you know. It's like the people who did this to me is like among us. You don't know what goes on in their minds. Our minds are more dangerous have that capacity. You never know that your “no” can make somebody ill minded or evil minded to do something like that. So when it comes to forgiveness like my whole healing process took a while you know. It's not like that I am this chirpy girl right now, I wasn't before.
I mean of course, there's a lot of trust factor I lost in humanity for a long time and slowly slowly came back and I started feeling that not as every human being is a bad human being and everything. But when it comes to forgiveness, usually, when people continue to make you feel victim of something and you're being you're trying to be a survivor, something comes up where you are constantly feeling sorry about yourself. You know, I mean, again, but it's up to you right? You want to feel sorry about this for you want to just keep going. Because honestly in the world how you feel about yourself as you. So I started saying that like okay I forgive myself, I forgive not feeling and getting better a little before. And I forgive myself in a way that if I goof up something right now or in the future, it's a process which I have to go through to learn certain things in life. But then forgiving, that person who did this to me, doesn't bring justification to the people who did to so many other people. Acid attack survivors right now is more than 10,000 all over the world right now. And then if we are constantly saying that we forgive them, what are we trying to do? A martyr, or are we trying to be Gandhi? Mother Teresa? I’m like, “I don't care.”
Man I'm not gonna forgive you, but I definitely want law system to work faster towards violence against the woman so that people get to learn from their mistakes as well. Because as a human being they are prone to get another punishment or a system or a penalty when then they stop doing the bad thing. I think as a human being I believe that law system is the one who's supposed to say sorry to all the survivors who have never been provided any justice, and they have to add more into that. So, yeah, not too much forgiveness inside. I'm just thankful I forgive the situation because I survived. But I feel like there are many acid attack survivors, when they got attacked and they were severe, they couldn't survive. Many died as well. So who are we trying to impress here? And all I say, forgive them. But then, how can I forget about the part that where I was lying in the hospital, skinless, you know, because all the skin got ripped off and then, and the rest of the skin got scraped off by the doctor to put a patch on the body? There was a time I was in a complete mummification zone. It was that bad.
And all the pain, that my parents and family has gone through, why am I forgiving that person? I'm not trying to prove to be person that you know who can take it everything. I think it's a fight, which I am taking on behalf of every violence against woman survivor here. So, that's what my answer would be.

Dydine 24:20
That’s true. And it's also, like you just mentioned, that attack on you was also an attack on your family. How did your family handle it? How are they still handling it?

Monica 24:35
I'm telling you there are certain parts where everyone is still suffering. I mean I am laughing, yes. I'm in a better place before than I am right now. So everybody's still suffers.
Their youngest kid, their daughter who lost her ability and the whole physical and everything and the entire family moved to hospital that time they started staying in my in my room because I needed them constantly. So, you know, like how you say you physically, mentally you when you are in such a situation, your parents, your family started looking 10 years older than what they really are? That's what the situation is. My dad was like, not going to the office he was constantly there because I needed a lot of blood transfusions and you know all those things plasmas and everything. And my parents, they used to keep those blood bags, wrapped in their body so that it's a warm or something as well sometime because each, each surgery used to require so much blood.
That time so everybody was involved, somebody there to feed me water with a spoon and everything. So, and then on top of it, I was physically facing all that, but then they're the ones who are stepping out in the society and then I go from the girl next door to the girl whose illegitimate affair gone bad. And also everybody started question to my family what happened? Why did you do this? And everybody's, suggesting my family to take some action or do something about that and but then my dad says the priorities is to keep my daughter alive. And then simultaneously we started our legal cases and it went for a while. But like I said, I still haven't gotten the Justice. So whatever the file system says that they are done with my case. But as far as my perpetrator is living normal life, it cannot be done, at least not on my side. I have to choose my life, or fighting toward to towards this case, and keep stretching my life for another 10 years. I found that my family gave up a lot. They had to arrange money because you know plastic surgery is not cheap anywhere. In any country it's not cheap. And each surgery used to last for like four to five hours and multiple places and they have to take care of. So, it requires a lot of doctors and money and they need to arrange funds, you know, there was a time when my family has to take a choice. “We have to sell this to collect money so we can you know pay for the next surgery” So it’s practically my second birth.

Alex 27:52
And 46 surgeries. 46. Everything you've been through, you still, even now, you are you are surviving. After surviving. And it seems like you're thriving and you said yourself you weren't always bubbly, you weren't always you know very chipper. But you are, it feels like you're thriving now and it takes so much strength. None of us could feel it but to show it to live it.

Dydine 28:20
And inspire other people. Yeah, it definitely takes a lot of strength to be where you are. What were your tools? How did you do it?

Monica 28:44
Okay, so a lot of people ask me that question. Sometime I don't know, it's in my gene or being positive is when I am. Sometimes its about a choice. You choose to continue to fight, you choose to be positive. You know, it's not a medicine you're taking a day or you know “I’m gonna be positive to this” No. I don't have a choice you know like if I'm continued to not to feel good or not to survive every day, how am I going? And then like I said my parents spent so much money to make me “this”. So I am Million Dollar Baby right now so basically it's my responsibility to be happy all the time. Because I feel sad now, and my mom got to know then her day goes away. Like you know like why she's sad. And I live in this country alone you know and I'm the first generation who came this far and studied here, and living myself here. And then there is a time and moment in everyone's life where you have to choose to continue to go on or keep yourself down. And I think a lot of people suffered from the COVID as well and then they put on masks and covering their faces, I lived like this for nine years.
I covered my face I covered everything that I wear I used to go because my face wasn't done you know like construction was done completely. I wasn't comfortable showing people other half of my face because I am not ready yet. So, I live like like people who are living right now, not meeting anyone not stepping out so that was my life like nine years. I used to go to college and come back and never used to talk to anyone and then if anybody comes to my house I used to go back in my room not to meet anyone because I don't want to encourage them to ask me unnecessary questions, which is going to touch my wounds all the time because everybody wants to ask them what happened. No matter how many time you tell them, they’re gonna ask you again.
So, basically what is the people who are going through right now who've gone through that for nine years and that's why this COVID did affect me because in that mental way I would say that, not the physical way I would say that. Yeah, I've done that I've been there, not meeting anyone not talking to anyone only with family members and close people and not showing my face to anyone somebody's done that as a patient for a long time and then if I've done that for that many years. Honestly, COVID is just surviving another thing as well.
That's what it is. And being a strength is a like I'm saying, you continue to do what you want to do, and it becomes a habit to your mental health that yeah you have to be strong. If you cannot be strong people will bring you down.

Alex 31:40
Yeah, that's that's true it's just came to my mind is not necessarily a question that we have prepared, and correct me if I'm wrong, maybe this is a personal thing but whenever you get, as I like to say lost in the sauce, or when things get really challenging for you, in your life, whatever that may be, I feel like there are moments that it becomes very clear that you have a decision that you can make to maybe take a fork in the road. You can choose to continue spiraling or to maybe feel a bit like a victim, or you could choose to take what is a lot of times the harder path and make the harder decisions to then make your life better, you know. It takes 10 times longer to put yourself back together than it does to actually fall apart. But i don't know I feel like there are times where you, it's very clear. It's clear as day, you have a decision to make and should you have the strength to do it, go for it.

Monica 33:10
Most of the time we are always 24/7 kind of working, not physically, but mentally we are always working. Always thinking and thinking, thinking. So sometimes what happens to me is like I get exhausted over thinking and planning something for my next project or next thing whatever I'm working on or whatever. So when that thing happened I realized like, Okay, my mind is not able to think and I'm unnecessarily taking stress over it so I give myself a break. Okay, you know what, like stop. I need to give my mental a little bit break, not to thinking so much and I take a break for a few days and then I go back and trace back all my pattern, “okay that didn't work, okay maybe this will work or something”.
Because some people are overusing their sensitivity mentality, psychology so much. And then when you continue to use so much what happened? Any product or anything you use so much, it doesn't stay in the same state as it used to be. So I think people should acknowledge their mental health more than anything else, you know. Mental health is a serious issue. You don't have to take mental capability and ability for granted. Every organ needs a break. Why not your brain? Give yourself some credit for that.

Alex 35:00
Yeah, and I'm happy that we talked about mental health, so much more today than perhaps in the past. Yeah, because it's not a tangible thing and a lot of times you know it's not like a scratch that you can just put a bandaid on. But it's kind of hard to understand it, to contextualize it sometimes, but it is it is just as important.

Dydine 36:00
It is super important. I remember back in Rwanda, mental health is... it's a country that that’s just been through a genocide. But still, if you had any, you know, breakdowns or whatever, you were like outcasts and you're going crazy. Nobody thought about it as an important mental health problem you have, they can treat it. You just were treated as a crazy person. And so I'm really grateful that nowadays, we're talking more about mental health. Especially now as you said about COVID. You experienced what we’re experiencing more for nine years. So I wonder if the lockdown it affected you, or it put us you back a little bit in your mind. Almost like PTD? Did something like that happen to you?

Monica
Well, of course, it is still going. It was a long time, and bad 2020, we were all, you know, jailed ourself in our apartment. And I live in a city I live in a small apartment so basically is like a window is my nature you know window thing is like whatever is happening out there is there. And the experience, I heard every sort of noise you know like how suddenly the noises of ambulances and the cop cars. The standard noises is used to terrify you and then I'm like, holy shit yeah, wrong city. Wrong country!
But it did trigger (me). What happened is like it brought more loneliness at some point, you know, because how many TV you watch and then there was a point when you stop listening about the news so because it was awful news coming. And then how much you can talk to your family all the time and friends all the time because at some point you feel like I don't have anything to tell you, I don't have nothing there you know like I woke up and started logging into my computer do my job is like, “What should I tell you what did I cook?” I hate cooking. But then I saw there was a time that I felt like, like people were talking about like how their kids, they spend their time with their kids or so much fighting with their husbands and blah blah. And I was like, I don't have anybody to fight with and I don't have anybody to look at the right now the What should I do so?
That was a couple of times I felt lonely, and nobody can come to my face and I cannot go to anybody's face it was all about phone. But I continue to continue to talk and my give myself a little different experience to talk in different people because everybody's going through some way or another. So, I did that I did a lot of meditation, honestly.
But at least now I'm not covering my face the way I used to cover. Because that time, I was hiding my identity. Now I'm not. And that is the only difference with my nine years of under the cover and now. But I mean I wish things get better, but then you know so many populations are not even listening the rules and regulation or covering their face because everything is a hoax apparently.
So I feel like, because of some people, things are going a little longer than it was supposed to be, you know, it would have been. And then people say no we are done with COVID, we are done with the covering face I was like yeah you're on the list!
What is wrong with you people? If you want to get better just just three months. But, but you know you can't heal everybody's brain right? You just do it in your capacity and let people make their own choices. Everyone is an adult now. Even the teenagers are pretty smart. And so, I'm not being everybody's mother, do whatever you want to do. This is what it is.

Alex
It's a journey for everybody yeah you know. I think back to our 2020 and you know it had its challenges like everybody else, but I'm just happy to be here. I'm happy to wake up every day.

Monica
That's some beauty people forget about. Life is precious. Life is beautiful! If you're still talking walking and even your blast.
You know it takes a minute to change somebody's life or somebody die. For me it was a minute, where everything went away right? So, people don't realize how life is beautiful. There would be no happiness if there is no sadness. If there is no sadness, how will identify what is happy and what is sad? There has to be a balance. And then if this is the sad time, everybody's having or had. I think that means happy time is coming better time is coming. Just prepare for your better future. That's what you have to do. I don't know why people don't understand that. So, this is like okay like okay, now the COVID has happened bad things happen so my life is gonna be bad. No, we don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow.
You never know. If nature and time doesn't stay the same, how is this time we're gonna stay the same?

Dydine
Yeah, you're preaching to the choir.

Monica
You guys are already super smart.

Dydine
No, no! You’re saying it, and I’m like “Preach!” That’s what I’m thinking myself as well. Yeah, I think that's where hope comes in. When you hear the word “hope” what comes in your mind?

Monica
Oh, I'm hopeful. I'm very hopeful. Since, like I said, I'm alive and still working, I think I can create my better future by myself and then I think people are getting more conscious and I think that living your life on a minimalism is back, which is really good. And, like, you know, people found real meaning of happiness during COVID as well because they have done it and survived it. And everybody learned, you know, about the essentials of life. And I think if we learn something like that... I mean it is terrible that nature has to do something this terrible for human beings to understand. But I think it was the right time, it was like “Okay calm down people. I'm gonna come and ruin it.” So basically, I think hope is everything. If you don't hope, you’re a dead person.
If you don't have hope you don't have anything to look forward (to). If you don't have hope you are not visualizing the better future. Hope is everything. I mean, you can always hope right? You can work towards your things. But hoping for the better time better future, better life, better love, better everything. Is that what it is, without hope. There is no life.

Alex
Right. And not just “exist”. But live. It’s an active thing.

Monica
Actively live you don't just think like in a way that you have to make your impression now in this world. Because this is basically human beings Second Act. For me. Since I was born right? This is our Second Act. We had a hurdle for one year. And now things are getting better so now we have to go back in the game as acting like this is my second chance. Whatever I couldn't do I have to do it now. Life is too short. I should not overthink so much. I should not be oversensitive about something. I just have to follow my dream. So this is everybody's second act and probably my third.

Alex
It’s good to remember to continue to strive to recognize that this is most people second act. A lot of people’s third or fourth. Take it. Seize the day.

Monica
I mean yeah, if you don’t do that then what’re you going to do? Be sad? Do you want to cry? Have more burgers?

Alex
Just let it go.

Monica
If there's a time when overthinking is helping you, or not feeling good about helping you in any way... then do that. But then you realize, whatever the time we lose during all this time when we lose you know time doesn't come back.

Dydine
Yeah, so, Monica you have the foundation that you help people. And we would like for our audience to be able to support you. Tell us a bit about it and how people can find it and how they can support your work and your dreams.

Monica
Okay, so I started my nonprofit in 2015, while I was studying at Parsons New School, and I started going and speaking at the United Nations, a lot and then I met so many survivors of rape, of domestic abuse, and child marriages and everything. And I know a lot of survivors of acid attacks in India as well.
A lot of things I've noticed that people don’t have the right information they need to go forward. And then people always, you know, get into the wrong hands like a wrong doctor who will keep trying their plastic surgery skills and everything. All this started coming to me when I see that these woman are very talented but they got interrupted, so I started this nonprofit for becoming as a resource center, where people can come get a support for scholarships and skill training where you don't want to go to college or you are not eligible to go to college, but you can learn a skill.
And then, medical support in terms like having the connection to the right doctor who can really get you the better results so that you don't have to go under the knife for more wrong procedures or something like that. And then supporting them to support themselves, you know. I realized that people need to have skill or something in their hands so that they can feel independent. So I started this foundation after my dad's name called the Mahendra Singh Foundation. Or mahendrasinghfoundation.org People can find through my name or, you know, they can google it or go to my Instagram pages, there. But the whole idea was a lot of women, when they suffered something, they lost their goals and dreams which they had before they suffered.

So I feel like they need to remember that they're meant to do something and they’ve just stopped doing it because they've been in a trauma for a long time. So now I'm working on raising funds for a scholarship program which I'm conducting in 2021, this year. But I can send some girls to college for their programs and skill training. Whatever our girls need. But these programs are only for violence against woman survivors. I'm just making it very specific. So woman with an acid attack, rape and domestic abuse, are eligible to get a support from us and that we will connect them to the right resources. And whatever the money we will raise, we will take care of their fees. And, you know, the whatever the fundings they required to achieve that, to do that.
So my whole idea was like, I've seen many nonprofit doing so many things and they are an incredible organization but then I think like I have been through where I was outside of that place where I needed a support at some point but I couldn't get support or anything. I just want to change that. And then not have girls in acid attack cases, basically their parents abandon them. Because they say, “You are burned. You're never gonna get married.” So you rather leave the house or whatever you, you know. I feel like I want to adopt to those women on a level, dare I say like, learn and get on their feet and go. Because I took education so seriously because for me, more than my face, my brain has to be smart enough for me to keep on fighting. So I think girls have to understand that if somebody can help support you one time, two times get a support which brings you endless resources. Don't look for a small time support or anything like, “give us money now and then we will be happy”. No, think in the long direction, you know?
Get support to learn something so that you get a job, you feel independent because, even during COVID domestic case and rape cases rise in such a terrible number where women were living with their abusers you know like husbands or whatever it is, they couldn't get out because they were financially depending on their spouses right. And I tell them to learn a skill, make your life better. So making these women self reliant and independent is my goal. That's what I'm working on.

Dydine
Thank you so much for the work you’re doing. It’s incredible. Definitely women, especially young women. We all need help.

Monica
They all need it. In one way or another right? They have questions. Sometimes they get an answer by the wrong person. So they go in the wrong direction.

Dydine
They don’t even know what they deserve sometimes.

Monica
Exactly! And there's so much potential everyone has. And then in a world where men are leading so much and women are still fighting to make their place in the same table. I think, because a lot them get interrupted in their life like I did, and then lose their track to keep on going. So I think it's time for making these women as future entrepreneurs, future leaders, so that they can join those table as well. We are so many there. And then I think being a woman is a more beautiful thing because we have the power to produce. So that's something what men cannot do and we can do so who has the power, you know?
But the point is, being able to create something is the most gorgeous and beautiful thing.

Alex
If we can get you to leave one piece of parting wisdom or advice to anybody, whoever you want to specify it to. What would you say? What's one thing that like to share to the world?

Monica
Love yourself. Keep believing in yourself. You have one life one chance to to prove who you are, continue to work in a way that you can leave an impression.
And if something doesn't break you, it makes stronger. And I think we all are stronger because we all survived something which our entire world did and then a lot of people survived is something which is unique in their own way. But having the sanity and clear and conscious to yourself...My way of living is very authentic and myself. I have no filters.
And I keep it very honest with my conversation and I do not try to be someone else. I just try to be Monica Singh. So I think that's what we can do you know? Just don't try to be someone else. Just be yourself. And that's what I would always tell people. There will be no other Monica Singh, so I’m good! So you look in that direction in a way that what you can do, no one else can. So, if anybody's listening this I just want to tell you that you are unique yourself, and nobody else can be you. So, love yourself, because God sent you, for some purpose and reason. And then if you’re still standing on your feet, and for continuing fighting towards it, that means there is a long life and you have a long way to go and show the world what you're meant to be.

Alex
100% I love that, I love that.

Dydine
There is no better version of you, other than being yourself. So, thank you so much for all the wisdom that you gave us today. Your smile, your positivity, everything. Your strength!...Thank you Monica!

Monica
Thank you so much guys. Thank you for having me. Love you!