When World Vision first came to work with the Rajnut community in India, the women traditionally worked commercially as prostitutes. Most entered the trade as young as 16, often forced by their own families. Many of them contracted serious sexually transmitted diseases and faced regular abuse. Even younger girls were groomed to take up this profession, leaving them with no chance or motivation to attend school or have a different career.
World Vision’s Jeevan Asha project has provided income generation programmes for women who’ve given up commercial sex work. Through clubs and awareness programmes, children learn about the importance of education and are encouraged to take up a different career when they grow up.
Peer educators teach women the importance of practising safe sex, how to protect themselves against HIV and encourage them to educate their children, especially the daughters.
Nisha (pictured), told us: "We first started this class for the children in our village who did not go to school regularly. But soon we began to teach the women in our community too."
Six young people, take turns conducting the classes every afternoon. Most of the women work for daily wages during the morning. Although tired with work and household chores, they are very excited to attend the classes regularly.
"We are happy and we can write our signature, count the numbers, read the name boards…thanks to our children and World Vision," says Mala, 38, one of the students.
In a community where education had little importance, women and children are setting an example and building their community.
In the words of one of Nisha’s friends: "With education, our world will definitely change."