If there is anybody who is painting New York with her favourite colours, it has to be Monica Singh for sure. Though a gruesome acid attack a decade back changed her life forever but never did Monica allow it to ruin her. With immense support and encouragement from family she completed her graduation in Fashion Design with flying colours. After ten years of struggle, sweat, pain, tears and 46 surgeries 29-year-old Monica is pursuing her master’s at the reputed Parsons New School of Design in New York City. You got it right – Monica Singh is flying sky high.
Well that’s not the end rather it is the beginning. After a year (2014) engrossed in academics at Parsons, Monica managed to step into the ‘active lifestyle’ of a New Yorker. She connected with people from other walks of life only to inspire them with her story and ambitions. One thing leads to another and Monica was invited to the esteemed UN We Care for Humanity’s 3rd Global Officials of Dignity (GOD) Awards in New York in August 2015.
“Please don’t ask about our pasts…”
At the summit, this girl of grit boldly essayed issues of gender-based violence on a global scale and the significance of women empowerment in eradicating them. Her audience were nothing less than royalties and dignitaries from around the world that even included the veteran Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala. Monica’s story, ideologies and almost everything about her left a huge impact on them especially when she said, “Please don’t ask about our pasts. It is traumatizing rather ask us about our present and future goals and dreams. We would love to talk about that.”
What Monica loves about her dream city – New York, is its transparency. Despite permanent marks and injuries on her face and body she doesn’t face awkward stares or sympathetic expressions but is very much treated like a normal person. Surprisingly people compliment her and appreciate her for her strength and calibre unlike in other countries in Asia where victims of such violence are confined indoors.
When it comes to self-resurrection Monica doesn’t expect it to be a walk-in-the-park. She says, “Be it India or New York it is a struggle everywhere. What’s important that you take actions to emerge from your struggles and not rely on someone for help. Since I live away from my family I have to do everything myself. That gives me the confidence to push myself towards my dream. But yes, air of patriarchy doesn’t exist in New York and people take new concepts and creativity in open arms.”
Thus in no time Monica conceived and established her dream project – Mahendra Singh Foundation. Named after her deceased father to whom she owes everything in life, Monica aims to generate awareness and support victims of rapes, acid attacks and other violent crimes on a global level and believes that New York would be a great platform for the establishment. Plus, Monica works closely with Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) an NGO based out of New Delhi of which she is the Vice President.
With a heart to help and determination to change things around, Monica and her friends conducted a fund-raising dinner in New York in April ’15 for an acid attack survivor in India and successfully made up to 1300 USD. Monica’s story has been published in quite a few American columns. Her in-depth knowledge about fashion makes her stand out of the crowd and she hasn’t left a stone unturned in her academics at Parsons. Not to mention she works on the fashion segment at Womennow.in as well.
Five years from now, Monica sees her successful primarily in two aspects. One is her dream project, Mahendra Singh Foundation. The second is to launch her own design label. For the latter she says, “At this particular time I know that it’s not easy to set up my own label, mainly due to the financial constraints and my responsibilities. But my dream is alive and I’m working towards it.”
Monica is an ardent follower of her own philosophy. “I feel that you need to make your own choices in life. If you’re inspired by someone, understand that even that person started somewhere and probably started small. They faced challenges too. Maybe you have certain obligations that makes it difficult to follow your passion right now, but that’s not an excuse to let go of your dreams. Make time to focus on what you want. If you do not want to work that hard to follow your dreams make peace with that. Be the best you can be where you are right now and enjoy your life. Don’t make things hard on yourself.”, says Monica Mahendra Singh.