International Women’s Day: standing with Lima’s girls

Foto di Roger Lo Guarro.

During International Women’s Day, Cesvi celebrates its efforts in improving living conditions of thousands of women all over the world.

In Lima’s House of Smiles in Perù, Cesvi hosts women and girls facing fragile situations: sexual abuses, drug addiction, poverty, loneliness. These people are all trying to repossess their dreams and their future.

Mirna is one of them: her parents have been arrested when she was five years old; her father died in prison because of the HIV, whereas her mother suffered from tuberculosis. When the woman came out from prison, Mirna’s experienced a shock: her mother started to use violence against her, so she was forced to flee. “I took shelter by an older friend names Betty. However, Betty drove me to drink alcohol, use drugs and prostitute myself. All I earned went to her and her boyfriend’s pockets”. Thanks to House of Smiles’ staff, Mirna became aware of the need to positively change her life. “Thanks to Cesvi I understood that I could better choose my future”.

According to a report published by the Woman’s Ministry of Peru, in 2017 86,104 cases of violence against women have been registered  in the country. In about 69% of them, victims were minors. Since 2004, Cesvi’s House of Smiles is specialized in dealing with risks of sexual violence and mistreatment, not only on women but also on children and young people. People in need can there find psychological, health and legal support: they are then carried through a path of re-integration, at school or at work. House of Smiles represents, for them, a chance for safety, an opportunity to redemption and to realize their dreams.

The House guarantees medical and psychological support to all girls victims of sexual abuses. The staff asks to the youngest, in particular, to develop a plan to define their life objectives, which Cesvi will try to realize through training courses and working integration. For example the case of Estrella, whose dream is to buy a motor-taxi to start working. “I have been living as a homeless for many years and I have shame on it: this is my secret, my children and my husband do not know anything about it. I dream economic independence and I would love to have, together with my husband, a motor-taxi to earn money and sustain my family.

Miriam is 34 years old and desires a bigger house where to live with her children. During day time she sells clothes at the market, whereas at night she prostitutes herself. Her older daughter is pregnant and the younger is 12. “None of them knows what I’m forced to do to earn enough money. Cesvi donates me clothes that I can sell at the market, helping me to increase my incomes and emancipate me from the street.”

“Cesvi works in five continents for the protection of children and young ladies. In six countries of the world, Zimbabwe, Sudafrica, Haiti, Brasile, Perù e India, Cesvi built the Houses of Smiles to implement child protection, to welcome orphans, homeless or abandoned minors and abused children – explains Daniela Bernacchi, CEO&General Manager of Cesvi – “We provide them food, medical cares, education, professional training, psychological support so they can work for a better future.”

On 8 March we have the chance to reflect and think about violence and injustices that women have to face. However, efforts to fight it have to continue every day, with tenacity and dedication.


Cover photo: training opportunities for girls living in the House of Smiles include also cosmetic courses. Ph. Roger Lo Guarro