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life Inside issue 5

Unlocking the potential of girls LIFE FOR CHILDREN AND THOSE WHO CARE FOR THEM Educating girls in page 4 Uganda: Claire’s story Not for sale in Nepal: Binita’s story

page 6

India’s girls’ real value: Sapna’s story

page 10


FOR CHANGE Every minute, 28 girls are married before they are ready

Pray that God would transform parents’ attitudes towards their daughters in countries like India so that they see true value in them. May girls have a greater say about their futures.

63 million girls still need to go to school

Pray that every effort would be made to educate girls in countries like Uganda, and that more alternative, vocational learning methods would be sought to improve their job prospects.

Global population statistics may show that males and females are evenly balanced in number, but the reality is that there remains a great gender gap at every level of society in many parts of the world. As you read Life magazine, please join us in praying for changed hearts and minds about equality, and a fairer world for all girls and women.

1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime

Pray for better protection for girls and women in regions such as Central America and that there would be greater respect towards them.

In 2015 there were only 21 female heads of state worldwide Pray that all girls everywhere would grow up able to overcome hurdles so that they can realise their dreams. Pray that God would lift up more women into key leadership roles.

Statistics from

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.� (Galatians 3: 28) Save the date! Be a part of the World Weekend of Prayer for children, hosted by Viva, on 3-4 June 2017. Look out for more details nearer the time. We are an international Christian charity passionate about releasing children from poverty and abuse. We grow locally-led networks who are committed to working together so that children are safe, well and able to fulfil their God-given potential.


Last year, we reached 1.4 million children in 22 countries through our 37 partner networks, which comprise a total of 5,500 churches and community organisations. Find out more at


A class of children were asked to draw a picture of a firefighter, surgeon and pilot. After a few minutes, the teacher asked if they would like to meet these people in real-life. Then in walked three women. This video, which appeared on Upworthy’s Facebook page, says that 61 of the children’s drawings were of men and only five of women, and that gender stereotypes are typically formed between the ages of five and seven. I love how through this classroom activity girls were encouraged to believe that they are capable of big things irrespective of their gender. Gender stereotypes and discrimination are still ingrained in society in the UK. Yet elsewhere the problem runs even deeper – in India 71 per cent of girls are neglected by family members and 48 per cent of girls wish they were boys. In this edition of Life, read about how we are challenging gender inequality through our partner networks in India by working with girls to raise their self-esteem, understand their rights and be

Liz Cross Supporter Care Co-ordinator confident in making decisions about their future. (page 10). Or in Uganda, hear how Claire is now pursuing her dreams after graduating from one of our Creative Learning Centres two years ago (page 4). Be inspired by our ‘4 tips to help girls thrive’ (page 7) and hear what Baroness Cox has to say about breaking the cycle of gender inequality (page 14). Finally, join us in bringing new hope and freedom to girls by making a gift towards this Christmas’ match appeal. Turn to the back cover to find out more. We do hope you can help.

WIN Email me at to tell me what you enjoyed reading in this issue of ‘Life’ and you could win a pair of Ugandan earrings and a keyring – both made by parents of girls from one of our CLCs set up especially for those with learning disabilities. As part of an income generation activity, the parents were taught to make crafts to sell so that they can better support their families. 3



CLAIRE’S STORY Young mum Claire is now better placed to further her studies and get a good job

“If I had not gone through the CLC, I would never have got such a job.”

Over the last three years, the Creative Learning Centres (CLC) we run with our partner network CRANE have helped more than 2,700 out-of-school girls in Kampala receive catch-up education. More than six in ten girls have gone onto ‘graduate’ to some kind of further learning, and we continue to support those who are yet to. Behind each number is a girl whose life is being changed for the better. One girl, Claire, chatted with CRANE’s Patrick Byekwaso about becoming a young mum, learning new skills and getting a good job. Tell us a little about yourself, Claire I’m 21 years old, mother to three year-old David whom I love very much. I’m currently a loans officer at a local microfinance bank in my community. Going back a few years, how was life for you? Not good. I dropped out of school when I became pregnant and had no hope of going back to school. At my parents’ home, I could get some food 4

to eat, but the diet was not the best for me and David. Without an education or a job, how could I give him a better life? What did you do next? I looked for any available opportunity to go back to school and decided to visit a secondary school near my home. I didn’t have any money for school fees, but wanted to find out what was required to join. The people in the school office introduced me to a mentor from the local Creative Learning Centre who took time to find out what was troubling me. That is when he invited me to join the CLC. How did the CLC help you? Everything there was good – from the way they taught us to the way they treated us. They

UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF GIRLS even allowed me to come with my baby, and to take breaks to care for him. I learnt so many things, including literacy and numeracy, arts and crafts, and about trusting God for everything. It gave me hope again. What did you do after completing your six months at the CLC? The CLC helped me join a secondary school. A ‘Good Samaritan’ paid my school fees up to my O Level exams. After passing them, I opted to do an apprenticeship with a microfinance bank that was opening in my community. I started training as a loans officer in January 2016 and am now working there. If I had not gone through the CLC, I would never have got such a job. How has this impacted your family? I am very happy now that I am earning money and able to take care of David and meet most of his needs. I am also able to assist my parents in meeting some of the domestic needs at home. What are your hopes and dreams? I want to pursue further studies and get a certificate in banking. This will equip me with the knowledge that I need to do my job better and advance my career. But for now, I am going to try my best to start a piggery and poultry farm where I can get some more money to support my son and the wider family. Patrick Byekwaso is CRANE’s Communications Officer

We believe that for education to increase the life chances of children at risk, it needs to be engaging and creative, considering the unique needs of each child, and embraced at community level. Viva runs its CLC programme with CRANE, its partner network in Uganda, as part of the Girls’ Education Challenge, run globally by the British Government’s Department of International Development (DFID). In addition to the centers, we’ve also trained 400 mainstream teachers in creative learning methods, mentored hundreds of families about economic sustainability and set up a mobile resource library used by thousands of children.

In Uganda

Only 1 in 4

girls complete primary education

Fewer than to 1 in 5 advance secondary school Around a third of girls become mothers before reaching adulthood

Creative Learning Centres teach literacy, numeracy, crafts and life skills

By giving to our Christmas Appeal, you can help girls like Claire get back to school again and go onto even greater things. Go to the back cover to find out more.



Every year, up to 20,000 young girls from the poorest parts of Nepal are sold to traffickers. Thanks to the intervention of Viva and CarNet Nepal, many more girls like Binita won’t be added to that number. Shikharbeshi is a village in the mountainous district of Nuwakot in Nepal. Almost everyone here is involved in agriculture and livestock farming, but that isn’t always reliable and is only productive for half of the year. For many families, the only way to survive is to send their children off to work. When teenage girls from the village migrate to nearby cities, and to other countries such as India, in search of employment, they are at a high risk of being trafficked and sexually exploited. Twelve year-old Binita lives in Shikharbeshi. Her mother died during childbirth and her father passed away a year later following an infection. She was taken into care by another couple in the village, who had three of their own children. Her adoptive father cultivates the land during the summer and monsoon season only, and with this limited income struggles to meet his children’s basic needs. As she was at risk of dropping out of school and of falling into the hands of traffickers, Binita was identified as needing assistance by a volunteer with the local Education Support


© Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank


Programme, along with 30 others girls in the area. The programme is run by CarNet Nepal, Viva’s on-the-ground partner network. Binita was enrolled in the programme soon after and kitted out with necessary stationery and uniform. She has made excellent progress with her school results and her adoptive parents are now eager to send her to mainstream school. They also benefit from training by network volunteers on the importance of educating their daughters and on issues of child protection. Binita said, “I want to be a school teacher and educate the children of my community who are not able to come to school. I have hope now, which is something every child should also have.”

There was a 15 per cent increase in people trafficking during the months following the spring 2015 Nepal earthquakes. This programme is one way in which CarNet Nepal – which comprises a total of 500 member churches – is keeping children safe from being exploited and trafficked. The network has also established income generation projects for women and spreads the anti-trafficking message through awareness-raising campaigns, resources, training courses and public events.

Our 2016 Christmas Appeal is focused on helping vulnerable girls like Binita reach their potential. See the advert on the back cover for more details.

© Saski



I asked my eight year old daughter for her advice before writing this and she summed it up by saying, “Never give up!” – a good mantra for any aspiring young leader! Of course, to really influence the way your daughter sees the world, you have to be a role model. And that is perhaps the hardest part of all. Here are four top tips to pass onto the girls in your life.

1 REWARD BRAVERY AND RISK-TAKING Girls are often socialised to believe that they should be 100 per cent ready before they try something new and that being perfect is more important than being courageous. If we look at great leaders, we quickly realise that there is no success without making mistakes and that we learn from failure. Encourage girls to push themselves out of their comfort zones and praise bravery over perfection.

2 HELP HER FIND HER TRUE IDENTITY Really understanding that you are a daughter of Christ, created in his image and loved by him is a huge blessing in a hard world that is quick to criticise the way we look and act. Give girls confidence to be themselves and help them to see the talents they have been blessed with. ‘Strengthsfinder’ is a great tool to enable this – it can help your daughter to understand what makes her feel strong, which is critical in building resilience and reaching her full potential.


Challenging and stretching yourself forces the brain to create new pathways which make us smarter. Those with a fixed mindset are likely to say “I can’t do it” and give up. Instead, encourage a growth mindset by praising girls for the process of their hard work, not the outcome. For example, say: “I can see you are gaining a lot of confidence through your hard work”, and “Well done for trying something so difficult and challenging”.

4 ENCOURAGE HER TO GIVE BACK AND ‘CHOOSE KIND’ Helping others less fortunate than yourself gives you great perspective. It can also be an opportunity to learn new skills and boost confidence. It is also proven through neuroscience to release ‘happy’ chemicals in the brain to create a positive outlook. So, be brave, love yourself, work hard, ‘choose kind’ and of course… never give up! Amanda McCalla-Leacy is Global HR Managing Director at Accenture and serves on Viva’s Board of Trustees. She has also volunteered with several organisations working to free women and children from a life of prostitution. 7




FEAR OF THE FUTURE. Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)


© Patricia Andrews




© Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank

MORE THAN INDIA’S GIRLS’ REAL Daughters are often considered by Indians to be a drain on family life


In India, almost two-thirds more girls than boys die before their fourth birthday.* Jane Travis explains why such a low value is placed on girls’ lives there, how Viva is changing attitudes towards gender inequality and building confidence in India’s precious daughters. “It’s a girl!” Three simple words pronounced at birth that should evoke tears of joy and excitement about the baby’s future. However, the stark truth for many families in India is that such an arrival brings shame, despair and anger.

Families are less likely to invest in a girl’s education or health, because she will eventually leave them to join another family. This limits her opportunities and makes her more vulnerable to early marriage, child labour or trafficking. As a result, attitudes towards girls in Indian society can be hostile, leading to violence, harassment, sexual exploitation or abuse. It is in this context that Viva is working with six city-based partner networks in 10

Among the activities planned by networks for the next three years is a mentoring programme for 1,200 girls called ‘Dare to be different’. It aims to help girls increase their self-esteem, understand about their rights and protection and to enable them to be confident in taking part in decisions that affect their lives. It has been tried and tested through some of the networks in India with encouraging results. Volunteers are trained as mentors to come alongside the girls and guide them through sessions which look at knowing their worth, purpose and value, protecting themselves and helping them to make wise choices. The mentors also support girls

* 2009 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in India. National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3)

Daughters are often considered a drain on a family. As soon as a girl is born, her family must start saving for the dowry which is given to her husband’s family on marriage – a custom which still happens today and has a major influence on how families view girls, despite being outlawed in 1961.

Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), Delhi, Dehradun, Hyderabad, Patna and Ranchi. Network members comprising a total of 500 local churches and organisations are working collaboratively for girls to be as equally valued as boys, their rights and safety ensured, and their hopes and opportunities for the future secured.

UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF GIRLS with difficult decisions or issues they are facing, meeting with families and teachers if necessary. Fourteen year-old Sapna is one girl whose outlook on life has improved radically through participating in the programme. She lives near a slum behind an upper class colony of Patna, a city of nearly two million people in eastern India. The family has no sanitation and must fetch water from the public tap which serves 200 people in the locality. In her neighbourhood, it’s the boys who are encouraged to study whilst the girls help their mothers with home chores. Teenage girls are frequently forced to marry. Sapna’s parents are normally away working as sweepers, which makes her feel unsafe because some men and older boys in the locality get drunk and fight, and are known to abuse girls. She said, “I lacked confidence and had very low self-esteem. I could not make future plans as I was preparing to be married and to move away from home. All of this disturbed me.”

© Patricia Andrews

Taking part in ‘Dare to be different’, run by the Patna network, has helped Sapna tremendously. “I feel that I can better take care of myself now and I will resist abuse and share it with

the elders in the family.” She has also come to understand why changes to her body are taking place – something that no-one had ever told her before. Sapna is also taking her studies seriously and dreams of becoming a teacher to help children in poor communities, just like her. As ‘Dare to be different’ evolves, girls like Sapna who have been mentored will be given opportunities to develop advocacy groups to share learning with their peers and to lead initiatives that look at changing some of the attitudes around girls. Additionally, the networks are hosting seminars and meetings with church leaders, parents and community elders to focus on laws protecting girls, government schemes to assist them, and the value of educating girls and enabling them to take part in decisions that affect their lives. We’re excited that, through the programme, hundreds of families will be encouraged to support their daughters by enabling them to attend school, leading to even greater opportunities for the future. Jane Travis is Viva’s Programme Development Manager and recently spent two years based in India

71% 48% 27%

of girls reported having been neglected by family members. of girls wished they were boys. of girls reported getting less food then their brothers.

Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007

1 in 3 4.5

child brides in the world is in India

(‘Ending child marriage progress and prospects’, UNICEF 2014)

million girls in India under 15 years of age are married with children. (2011 census)

Male literacy rate is Through ‘Dare to be different’ girls learn their purpose and worth

Female literacy rate

82% 65% (2011 census)

Join us in bringing new hope and freedom to girls in India and elsewhere by making a gift towards this Christmas’ match appeal. Turn to the back cover to find out more.


Children speaking out against violence in Latin America


TOGETHER by Mark Stavers

One of the best pieces of advice I always go back to at times like this is to ‘Keep the main thing the main thing’. So rather than getting stuck in all the technical terms and in-depth planning, I remember that my biggest concern as I lead Viva is to understand what the main thing is – and to ensure we keep to it.Viva focuses on four key values:


A concern, love and focus on vulnerable children worldwide. One can look at what has been achieved and be encouraged – the number of out-of-school children and under-five mortality rates have both halved over the last 25 years, according to UNICEF figures. But at the same time I continue to have my heart broken at the other side of the coin – for example, as I sat recently with the Bishop of Harare and heard first hand of the devastating drought in Zimbabwe.

2 12

A belief in the local Church being God’s way of working in society. Church is how God has designed us to come together. It’s how we work together as a body. It’s the most sustainable organisation in the world. It’s beautiful, full of broken people who are loving God.

Vision casting, mission statements, strategic planning… I’m sure I’m not alone in sometimes getting a little lost in words, plans and ideas as we look forward to the future!


The knowledge that we can achieve more together. Bringing local churches together to work collaboratively can achieve so much more than individual churches on their own. As Patrick McDonald, Viva’s founder, put it so elegantly in a recent email: “What Viva seeks to do is migrate a current Church response that is disseminated, disconnected and (in overall terms) dysfunctional into one that is connected – therefore capable and credible. That transition is not easy to achieve but when it happens the Church really has a story to tell.”


A desire, prayer and expectation that we can find solutions – yes, solutions – to the issues children face in a city. It’s a lofty goal and some days it can seem completely unachievable, but then on other days we get glimpses: that local churches working together in cities such as Guatemala City or Kampala, Uganda – to mention just two – could start to see issues being resolved city-wide through the churches working together.

So, if those four things are the core of what Viva is all about, what are we doing specifically? In order to increase our impact, we are focusing our work around seven main themes. Transforming children through education

We help children to catch up on their schooling and equip them for the future. In Uganda we re-educate marginalised girls, train teachers and engage community mentors to develop parenting skills.

Keeping children safe

We protect children in Central America from violent, abusive situations in their homes and on the streets and advocate for change.

Making child trafficking history

Our network in Manila, Philippines is serving the city’s street children

We provide homework clubs, assist women’s businesses and spread the anti-exploitation message – all to make children and parents in Asia less vulnerable to trafficking recruiters.

Finally, in terms of our plans for the coming number of years we have identified three objectives:

Resettling children into families

■ To continue to support partner networks of churches across 66 cities in their joint programmes to serve vulnerable children

We resettle abandoned children in Uganda into loving families, and provide these families with counselling, income-generating advice and practical support.

Unlocking the potential of girls

We train and support churches in India to challenge gender discrimination, report abuse and raise girls’ self-esteem.

Protecting children in emergencies

We give practical relief and psychosocial support for families following disaster and conflict, train community leaders and set up child-friendly spaces.

Helping young people thrive

We catalyse a collaborative response from local churches and other providers in Oxford to the complex needs of young people in order to increase their self-esteem and resilience.

■ To pilot citywide coalitions, bringing together our most effective partner networks with city authorities and others to bring systemic change to the issues children face. ■ To look outwards: to advocate and agitate on the benefits of collaborative action and to share our experience and tools with others who can use them to bring benefit to many. We are constantly learning and are always interested in engaging with people in discussion about our work – if you want to talk more, please do drop us a line at Mark Stavers is Viva’s Chief Executive

Join us on this journey of helping bring life to vulnerable children around the world. Get in touch with Liz on 01865 811660 or to find out how you can fundraise, pray and give for Viva.



BREAKING THE CYCLE OF GENDER INEQUALITY When inequality is ingrained in society, it becomes a selfperpetuating cycle that is difficult to break. In many countries, there is gender discrimination against girls and women through all stages of life. Before birth, girl foeticide is practised in places including China and India. This is often for financial reasons including payment of dowries or men earning more than women. In childhood, inequality in access to education is found in many countries where parents with low incomes prioritise sending sons to school rather than daughters – because of boys’ greater potential, or gender norms requiring females to be raised primarily to care for their home and family. Child marriage and young pregnancy also cause many girls to leave secondary education. This cycle of inequality is perpetuated in adulthood in many ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries where women’s wages are comparatively low compared with male counterparts – such as with participation in politics.


The small NGO which I founded, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), provides aid and advocacy to help women to tackle barriers to equality in Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Burma, India and Uganda through projects such as income generation training and a ‘girls school which boys may attend’.

In Burma, Shan Women’s Action (SWAN), is working tirelessly to challenge inequality. In Shan and Kachin States, fighting between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups continues to displace thousands of people, destroy homes and provide cover for gross human rights violations. Sexual violence by the Burmese Army is committed with impunity, and stigma causes many victims to stay silent. Maternal and child health care and education are severely lacking in areas of fighting. SWAN empowers women in different ways: training health workers in maternal and child health to provide care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and post-natally; challenging domestic abuse and sexual violence through awarenessraising campaigns and support groups; training teachers; providing women’s empowerment and leadership courses; and advocating for women to play a greater role in politics and community decision-making. Breaking the self-perpetuating cycle of inequality requires change in all aspects of society. If we feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible, we remember our HART motto: “I cannot do






Foeticide in India: There are 914 girls per 1,000 boys aged 6 and under (2011 census). Naturally, there should be about 943 females to 1,000 males at birth so in total that’s three million missing baby girls.

% female Parliamentarians Uganda 35% Burma 13%



Uganda 50% boys and 42% girls complete primary education


Teenage pregnancy (number of girls out of 1,000 who give birth when aged 15-19) Philippines: 61 Uganda: 115 Guatemala: 81 Nicaragua: 90




everything, but I must not do nothing”. Together, if we all do something, we can help to make a difference for girls and women in very challenging situations across the world. Baroness Caroline Cox was created a Life Peer in 1982 for her contributions to education and served as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005. She now sits in the Lords as a crossbencher, speaking regularly on behalf of the communities that HART supports.

In Burma, maternal and child health care and education are severely lacking in areas of fighting. The word ‘Burma’ as opposed to Myanmar has been used throughout this article because it is preferred by the peoples of Burma with whom HART works.


Viva, Unit 8,The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF t: 01865 811660

FACEBOOK.COM/VIVATOGETHERFORCHILDREN Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fibre. Cert No. SA-COC-09174 Front cover main: © CRANE Front cover inset: © Patricia Andrews



Viva is an operating name of Viva Network. Viva Network is a company limited by guarantee no. 3162776, registered charity no.1053389, and registered in England at Unit 8, The Gallery, 54 Marston Street, Oxford, OX4 1LF. Any children referred to have had their names and photos changed in accordance with our Child Protection Policy.

Life magazine 5 (UK version)  

With the theme 'Unlocking the potential of girls', Viva's latest magazine features articles focusing on our work in Uganda, India and Nepal....

Life magazine 5 (UK version)  

With the theme 'Unlocking the potential of girls', Viva's latest magazine features articles focusing on our work in Uganda, India and Nepal....