Keeping young Indian girls safe

It is a sad reality that in some places children are not safe; and it is an even sadder reality that in some places girl children have an even greater chance of being raped, or abducted and sold into the sex trade.

A few years ago we created the Donna McDermid Memorial Fund to help projects that are addressing issues of gender injustice.  It has taken us quite a while to get this fund operational and now that it is up and running we want to use it to improve the status of women in the developing world.

AnuRecently, we received an email from our friend Anu Dongadive who is working amongst poor widows and the forgotten women in Pune, India.  Most of these women have been cast aside, along with their children; some are widows who have been abandoned by their husband’s family following his death, and others have husbands who are now in new relationships and no longer want to support them.  Most of the women that Vanitashray is working with have 3-5 children.

Justice can be very slow in India and the system often fails widows and their children, leaving them to beg, become prostitutes or work at very low paid menial jobs in order to live. Anu’s charity, Vanitashray, cares for these women and their children by offering them help and support, shelter, food, and skills training so that they can find work and provide for their children. Anu is an amazing woman who was herself raised in an orphanage, and is also a widow raising two daughters.  She is well known and greatly respected in the local community.

Vanitashray aims to support girls in getting an education in local schools, but for girls in India just getting to school can be dangerous.  It is not uncommon for women to be groped as they make their way on and off buses; and who can forget the terrible rape and murder that occurred in Delhi at the hands of a bus driver and his friends a couple of years ago.

VanSome parents fear for the safety of their girls and others cannot afford to pay school fees, so they do not allow their girls to go school and lock them up at home instead for most of the day.

Vanitashray is working with these families to see these young girls educated.  Anu believes that safe transport is a key that will see many girls allowed to go to school.  She has asked us if we can provide her ministry with a ‘Winger School Van’ that can be used to transport young girls safely to and from school. We are only too willing to assist and have made this appeal the first appeal that we are running through our Donna McDermid fund.

The amount we need to raise is $15,000. These funds will be enough to buy a small van that will seat 13 children at a time.

For the sake of the security of these children and for the peace of mind of their parents we think that $15,000 is a small price to pay.  We are calling this appeal Keep me safe, because the van will ultimately keep these young girls safe as they travel about the community.

Donations to this appeal are tax deductible.  Your donation will both help us to launch the work of the Donna McDermid memorial fund and to keep these young Indian girls safe as they make their way to and from school.


Let’s keep these young girls safe!


Donations to this appeal can be made via the Australian Mercy secure site. (Remember to select Donna McDermid Fund from the project target menu)


A copy of Australian Mercy’s statement on how funds for appeals are used can be found here.