In Hindi, Veerni means heroine or woman of strength. The Veerni Project is guided by the core belief that when girls and women are educated and healthy, they will have the strength to create positive changes in their lives as well as in their communities and gain economic independence.
Around 15 million people live in western Rajasthan. 79% of these inhabitants live in small rural villages which are extremely underdeveloped. Many villages lack electricity, clean water, proper roads, schools and medical care. Agriculture and stock breeding are the principal activities but are monsoon dependent. Droughts manifest in the form of crop failure, un-replenished ground and surface water and a scarcity of fodder, resulting in a loss of livestock. Malnutrition is still widespread, and it is estimated that 46 % of Indian children are malnourished. While child marriages have been illegal for many years, they still take place on a regular basis. In India, and especially in rural Rajasthan, there is still a profound bias against girls, which has led to one of the world's lowest women to men ratio: 914 for every 1000 men.
In the next 10 years, an estimated 100 million girls will be married before they turn 18. On Friday, October 12, 2008, in an hour-long special broadcast, NOW took an unprecedented inside look at a global custom that devastates girls' lives and holds back communities.
Click here to watch the documentary
However very gradually change can be seen, as reported in the Times of India of November 19, 2009; 'Young girls are raising voices loud enough to be heard beyond the courtyard.' Perhaps not able to change their own lives, girls are determined that their daughters will not be married off at a young age.
To read the article click here
Jacqueline, the founder of the institute, has a long history of work related to women's health, education and wellbeing. Her work has been global in its scope however her attention in recent years has focused on empowering girls in rural Jodhpur so that they are able to live healthy, independent and dignified lives. Originally from Switzerland, Jacqueline runs The Global Foundation which raises funds to support the project from its headquarters in New York.
Funder of the Veerni Project
She was born in 1939 in Lausanne. She has had, as a volunteer, ground experience in Social welfare in London. In New York she worked as a volunteer in the children's burn unit of New York Hospital. Back in Switzerland Anne worked as a volunteer in a Social centre of immigrants, helping children with their homework. She now teaches French to the non-accompanied minor refugees in a refugee shelter in Lausanne. She is based in Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland.
Health and Sanitation Supervisor
Health Advisor and Volunteer
Teaching Assistant and Matron
Village Literacy Teacher