TELLING STO­RIES THAT NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - City - - Lifestyle -

The great­est bat­tles are not fought against coun­tries, but against a mind­set. Prison re­forms ac­tivist Var­tika Nanda has been fight­ing this bat­tle for more than a decade. Nanda has been work­ing tire­lessly to trans­form lives of prison in­mates, who have been deemed un­for­give­able by so­ci­ety. While they live in the con­fines of prison, Nanda teaches them var­i­ous skills such as paint­ing, writ­ing and singing to make life less weari­some. She also or­gan­ises mo­ti­va­tional train­ing for in­mates to re­in­still con­fi­dence in them so that they can land a job once they are re­leased. This is no mean feat. Most of the in­mates have dif­fi­culty get­ting a job be­cause of the tag ‘pris­oner’. But Nanda is not the one to give up eas­ily. Bat­tling re­gres­sive mind­sets in our so­ci­ety, she en­sures that these in­mates get an op­por­tu­nity, a sec­ond chance. “Peo­ple look down upon prisoners. There’s a lot of stigma at­tached. They are dis­owned by the so­ci­ety,” says Nanda. No won­der, Nanda’s work draws se­vere crit­i­cism from var­i­ous cor­ners. Re­cently, her web­site was hacked by haters who had been trolling her for her work. But Nanda is not the one to give up. “There are many prisoners who want to start their lives from scratch. They re­pent their mis­take and I firmly be­lieve that do de­serve a sec­ond chance. Life is about fall­ing down and get­ting up again,” says Nanda.

PHO­TOS: AMAL KS/HT

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