Raahi

Unlocking the potential of girls

Indian girls experience extreme prejudice. Studies show that girls under the age of five are 50% more likely to die than boys. Their education is seen as a low priority, and violence and harassment are commonplace.

This was the backdrop to 15-year-old Raahi’s life.

And then, in a single year, she lost both her parents, and was left in sole charge of her younger sisters and brothers.

How could she survive? In the busyness of the slum in which she lived, who would even notice?

Roshni did.

Roshni is a volunteer from a local church, part of Viva’s partner network in Delhi. She met with Raahi week after week, talking, listening and supporting her as she worked through her grief and fears for the future.

A Viva-trained mentor, she helped build Raahi’s confidence and self-esteem, and encouraged her to apply for a job. Raahi is now working part-time as an assistant at a local school as she continues her studies.

In a country in which her gender marks her out to many as a second class citizen, Raahi was given the gift of self-belief.

To Raahi, Roshni is a hero. But there are thousands like her. Viva works through the local church in India, harnessing the power of volunteers determined to make a difference.

The local church isn’t going anywhere; it has no exit strategy. Viva trains and supports people from these churches to act to challenge discrimination, report abuse and help girls to know they have a positive role to play.

Two hundred girls have already been mentored in Delhi and Patna, and Viva plans to extend this to reach girls in three more Indian cities.

Viva’s big dream in India is to see girls grow up feeling valued, safe from exploitation and able to thrive.

More insight into discrimination against girls in India can be found in the ‘Culture and Gender Discrimination’ study by Shijith and Sekher. You can read more about the disparity of under 5 mortality rates for girls and boys in India in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs ‘Sex Differentials in Childhood Mortality’ report.