Pam Walsh had previously met Jacqueline for coffee and knowing that she was Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the Veerni Project, a charity that provides support to young women in Rajasthan, India, invited her to speak at a proposed BRA lunch. As things turned out, Jacqueline reversed the invitation and very generously hosted a lunch for the 14 BRA Members and Non-Members who had signed up, at her beautiful home in Genolier.
After drinks and the main course and before partaking of the delightful choice of puddings, Jacqueline gave a fascinating talk on the Veerni Project. (Veerni- the heroine woman, in Hindi). Set up, 30 years ago, its activities were carried out in the remote villages in the Thar desert, to provide basic health care in 45 villages. As the Project developed, by 2005, it became clear that if women remained illiterate then real progress would never be made Veerni now runs a resident boarding school facility, where in complete safety young women can attend the local secondary schools, knowing that they have secure shelter, transportation to and from school, a balanced diet, health care and love and attention from devoted staff and volunteers. There are at present, 112 girls, ages 12-18, boarding at two Institutes and the girls’ exam pass rate is 100% !
Jacqueline gave several examples of the many girls who have passed through the Veerni Project system and have gone onto further education and achieve great success in life, against all the odds. In Rajasthan, 50% of all women are illiterate; it is a patriarchal society, with child bride marriages very common. Jacqueline told us that there was hope. Young fathers are telling her that they want their daughters to succeed and will not marry them off against their will. Gandhi ’s quote from over 75 years ago, is still relevant today.
“If you educate a woman, you educate a whole family“.
For more information www.fondationveerni.org