Julie Kumari, from Fatehpur, in Uttar Pradesh, India, was left with life-changing injuries when her father flew into a jealous rage and tried to injure her mother in an acid attack in 2013. The acid missed his wife and instead landed on Julie, then four, melting her face, neck and chest and leaving the schoolgirl struggling to eat.
A seven-year-old girl who suffered severe burns in an acid attack by her father will have her education funded by Miss Universe GB 2017 after the pair met during a charity visit.
Miss Universe GB Anna Burdzy, 25, from Leicestershire, was so moved when she heard Julie’s story during a charity event in Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh, last week, that she pledged to personally pay for the little girl to go to a fee-paying school.
Immediate bond: Julie Kumari with Miss Universe GB 2017 Anna Burdzy, 25, in Lucknow, India, last week. The beauty queen offered to pay for Julie’s schooling after they met
Life-changing injuries: Julie was just four when she suffered severe burns to her face and neck after her father tried to injure her mother in an acid attack. The schoolgirl, who has since had surgery, was left unable to smile. Pictured, Julie before the surgery to improve her condition
Close: Beauty queen Anna, 25, from Leicestershire, was moved by Julie’s harrowing story
Julie’s mother Rani Devi, 31, who earns just £2, said they were overwhelmed by Miss Burdzy’s generosity.
She said: ‘Anna said she’d offered to sponsor her education. What else can I ask from god? It is nothing less than a miracle and Miss Anna has come as a living god into our lives.’
Model Anna said: ‘Julie captured my heart immediately and I’m really looking to working alongside the Miss Universe Great Britain organisation to help fund her education. I will watch her progress closely and feel proud to know that we will have done our bit to help her find her way in the world.’
Julie was injured when her father Manish, 40, tried to attack his ex-wife Rani and her new husband Heera Lal, 35, as they slept. But the acid instead hit his then four-year-old daughter, melting her face and leaving her with extensive burns.
Treatment: Earlier this year a charity paid for Julie to undergo surgery that her own family could not afford
Little princess: Anna allowed Julie to try on her Miss Universe GB crown during the event
She was rushed to a nearby government hospital but they were only able to stabilise her injuries. With no money to pay for treatment, Rani was forced to return home with her daughter and watch as her quality of life started to diminish.
Charity work: Miss Universe GB Anna Burdzy
The skin around her neck contracted as it healed, leaving Julie unable to move her head and making it painf
ul to eat, talk or smile.
Earlier this year the Chhanv Foundation, an Indian charity which helps acid attack survivors, heard about Julie’s case and paid for her to have treatment.
The charity organised the event at the Sheroes Hangout Café, where Anna met Julie and more than 50 other acid attack survivors during a tour of India.
Miss Burdzy’s support will allow Julie, who is currently enrolled at a government school, to attend a fee-paying school nearby.
Rani said: ‘Julie has immense interest in studies and often says she wants to go to a bigger and better school but I’ve never been able to afford it. We live in a remote village and there is nothing here. But now someone has stepped forward to give my daughter an opportunity, I cannot thank her enough.’
Julie is scheduled to undergo further surgery later this year.
Durga Prasad, is the head of welfare at Chhanv Foundation, said: ‘Anna spent time understanding the stories of all the acid attack survivors but she was touched the most by Julie’s story.
Charity: Anna spent time meeting acid attack survivors during the visit to India last week
‘We discussed several initiatives and education programmes and that’s when Anna decided to sponsor her education. Nobody expected her to be so generous.’
Anna, a human rights student, will fly to Las Vegas next month to represent Great Britain in the Miss Universe pageant. She will compete alongside young women from around 90 other countries.
On her return, she plans to stage her own fundraiser for the Stop Acid Attacks campaign in Leicester in the new year.