Making a Difference: RISE UC

Names: Zoha Mian and Meghan Chandorkar

Year: Both second years

Majors: Medical Sciences

Involvement: RISE UC

Her Campus University of Cincinnati: Hi! Thank you both so much for chatting with me today! To start, what is RISE?

Zoha Mian: RISE Coalition is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit working to end acid violence internationally. Acid violence is generally the act of throwing acid at someone, commonly women, with the intent to disfigure, torture, or kill the victim. The acid then melts the flesh, sometimes to the bone, and causes lifelong scarring, physical disfigurement, and in some cases, permanent disability including blindness and immobility. Acid violence not only has a significant physical impact, but causes intense psychological distress, with survivors frequently reporting depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Although acid throwing is a form of violence known to have been committed throughout history, there is a steep rise in the number of cases documented in recent years.

RISE was started by Angie Vredeveld, a psychologist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. She began working with acid attack survivors in 2014 after she met an acid attack survivor in Uganda, which led to the creation of RISE. Our mission is to activate the potential of individuals, both acid attack survivors and activists around the world, to find solutions to end acid violence. We do this by providing support to our partner centers across the globe.

The student organization works to raise awareness and funds as well as develop a long-term project to sustainably support acid attack survivors alongside our partner organizations in Uganda, India, and Nepal. We are an interdisciplinary organization with the mission to activate the potential of individuals, both acid attack survivors and activists. We see the importance of every individual and want each member to RISE as they help acid attack survivors around the world RISE.

HCUC: Wow, this is fantastic work being done. Where are the partner centers located, and what kind of support do you presently provide?

ZM: We currently have centers located in Uganda, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Our services include providing health services such as connecting survivors with medical professionals who may be able to provide surgeries, raising awareness, counseling skills training, psychological therapy, and supporting survivors in their business endeavors.

HCUC: What is RISE UC? What is the purpose of it on campus, and what are your goals and mission statements?

ZM: RISE UC was created to increase awareness about acid attacks here on campus. We hope to raise awareness about acid attacks around the world and what is currently and actively being done to prevent it. Through RISE UC, we hope to create a coalition of students that work together to end acid attacks globally to minimize the effects of it and restore the lives that have been adversely affected by it.

HCUC: Why and how did you get involved in RISE?

Meghna Chandorkar: I got involved with RISE in the summer of 2017. I was looking for an extracurricular opportunity and decided that participating in an internship would be a great option. As I was scrolling through the list of pre-health internships, I saw the RISE internship opportunity. Its description said that it was a nonprofit organization that supported acid attack survivors. I was immediately intrigued and went through their website to learn more. I was really interested in their work. One of the aspects about RISE that fascinated me was that the survivors they worked with in Uganda made handmade crafts (jewelry, small wallets/purses/bags, and laptop cases). RISE would buy these crafts and sell them in the U.S. Any profits would be donated back to RISE in order to expand programming for acid attack survivors around the world. I thought this was amazing because RISE allowed survivors to get involved and fight for their cause. This is why is joined RISE.

HCUC: What does RISE mean to you?

MC: RISE means to overcome any difficult hardships and using that experience to RISE into something better. RISE also means to believe that you have the potential to make a difference. Often, people think that they have to have a set skill set in order to be helpful. However, that is not true at all. Each individual is unique in their own way. Like RISE would say: "We are empowered by empowering others."

HCUC: What is a favorite thing you have done for RISE?

MC: One of my favorite things that I am doing for RISE is publishing RISE stories. RISE stories are short stories that serve to provide encouragement and confidence to readers. It tries to convert the fact that nobody is ever alone when they are undergoing some hardship or struggle. I got to interview acid attack survivors from Uganda. After reading different stories, I feel empowered because I have the opportunity to be a part of such a cause and educate other individuals about acid violence.

HCUC: How can students get involved in RISE UC here on campus?

ZM: Follow the UC Chapter on Instagram, and on Facebook! I also recommend checking out the RISE Coalition website, as well! They can also reach out to [email protected].