RAHI is a deeply personal organization, founded by Anuja Gupta and Ashwini Ailawadi. They lead the team which is made up of both survivors and non-survivors, all of whom have same vision and goal – to end incest/CSA and to create a safe support space for survivors.
Anuja Gupta, RAHI’s Founder and Executive Director, is one of India’s leading experts on the issue of incest/child sexual abuse. In 1996, at a time when no one in the country was talking about this taboo subject, Anuja started the pioneering non-profit RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest) Foundation, India’s first incest/child sexual abuse response organisation. RAHI’s work has laid the foundation for this issue to come to light and continues to shape the way it is addressed in the country. Anuja is an Educator, Trainer and Therapist in the area of incest/child sexual abuse. She designs and conducts training with mental health professionals, students, parents, teachers, counsellors and social workers. She lectures and presents extensively on the subject at universities, schools, conferences, NGOs and other forums in the country and abroad. She conducts individual and group therapy with adult survivors and their families.
Anuja has helped start incest survivor groups in India. She functions as an advisor and consultant to organizations and individuals working on child sexual abuse, domestic violence and trauma. She was part of the national core team that has drafted the recently passed law ‘The Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011’. She guides and supervises student research, and media, film, book and communication projects on the subject. She is widely covered in the media and gives interviews to, and is part of news stories, talk shows and panel discussions on TV, in the print media and on radio. Anuja appeared as the subject expert on actor Aamir Khan’s highly acclaimed TV show Satyameva Jayate. Interviews with her and RAHI’s survivors formed the main research for the show.
Anuja Gupta has been awarded the Ashoka Innovators for Public Fellowship and now serves on their Selection Panel. Since 2008, she is an Ashoka Fellow Ambassador. She is a process worker and a Fellow of the Sumedhas Academy for Human Context, a process work institute. She is a member of The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) and in the internationalization task force of ISSTD. She is a past Fellow of the MacArthur Population Innovations Program. A former French teacher, Anuja has worked in the human rights and development sector for the past 20 years and has been involved in the issues of child rights, women and violence, HIV/AIDS and sexuality.
A former Addiction Counsellor, Ashwini came across incest/child sexual abuse in his practice in the early nineties. His recognition of this as a crucial issue that needs to be addressed, and his vision around it, was instrumental in the formation of RAHI as India’s first incest/child sexual abuse response organization in India. He is RAHI’s Programme Consultant and Communications Manager. His role is to oversee the functioning of all of RAHI’s programs, and includes conceptualising and shaping them. He is specifically in charge of Communication work and the Editor of RAHI’s publications, notably the book of survivors’ personal testimonies ‘The House I Grew Up In’, the first of its kind in India. RAHI’s path-breaking play ’30 Days of September’, written by Mahesh Dattani and directed by Lillette Dubey, was Ashwini’s brain child as part of the communication strategy of mainstreaming the issue of incest/child sexual abuse through creative means. Ashwini runs the RAHI media survivor team that comprises survivor in recovery who are trained by him to talk to the media. He worked closely with actor Aamir Khan’s research and production team for the child sexual abuse episode on the highly acclaimed TV show Satyameva Jayate. He is involved in the design of our training modules and also functions as a co-trainer.
Ashwini has a background in journalism and has worked with some of the leading newspapers and magazines in the country. He has trained as an Addiction Counsellor with The Caron Foundation, (Reading, Pennsylvania), and has over 17 years of experience in working with therapeutic communities and specialized in working with families and Adult Children of Alcoholics. He has also been a trainer with L.E.N.S. (Leadership Effectiveness and New Strategies), a management and training consultancy firm affiliated to the Institute of Cultural Affairs (Chicago) and conducted vision and leadership programs with Corporate and business houses. He has also been actively involved in HIV/AIDS activism and has played a key role in bringing out publications on the issue.
Veenu comes from 16 years of experience working in the development sector at the grassroots and national level on various women’s rights issues like gender-biased sex selection, reproductive and sexual health and rights, sexual harassment at work place, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, incest/child sexual abuse.
Her wide range of expertise includes strategising, implementing, conducting trainings, mobilising communities, liaisoning with various government stakeholders as well as engaging with youth, medical health professionals, teachers, school authorities and community leaders.
Apart from her extensive field experience in Haryana, Veenu has also worked in Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. She holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow.
Jaina Shrivastava is the Office Manager at RAHI. She manages all administrative work, maintains the database of all activities of RAHI, and provides administrative support to ensure that municipal operations are maintained in an effective, up to date and accurate manner. Jaina also maintains confidential records and files and performs other office operations related duties as required.
Jaina has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Programmes from Delhi University and Post Graduate in Business Administration specialising in Human Resource and Operations from IMT Ghaziabad. Prior to RAHI, she worked for two years in similar fields. She is passionate about human rights and issues around female sexuality. Her interest is interacting with children and the creative pursuit.
As Senior Project Coordinator, Aarti works with RAHI’s Rural Community Project. She also contributes in the youth campaign’s college outreach events and is compiling resources in Hindi for the in-house library.
Aarti has a strong foundation in Sociology and holds a second Master’s degree in Social Work from Madhya Pradesh’s Dr. Hari Singh Gaur University, Sagar. Her experience spans a decade of working at the grass-root level on varied issues like Gender, Trafficking and Women’s Rights. She has also been a trainer in Gender Sensitization & Basic Women’s Health.
Aarti connects easily with rural communities and has developed village level adolescent and women’s groups. With strong convictions about gender equality, she has opposed patriarchy and its adverse impact on women’s empowerment.
As Project Coordinator of RAHI’s Rural Community Project, Pitambari coordinates with partner organizations working at grassroots, develops training modules, tools for outreach and communication materials. She also plays a supportive role in the youth outreach programs.
Pitambari graduated in Human Resource Development from Mangalore University and did her Post Graduation in Social Work specializing in Community Development from Christ University, Bangalore. She was awarded a scholarship for an exchange program with HAN University of Applied Science, Netherlands where she did a minor course in International Sustainable Development Cooperation. Pitambri has also worked in researching Women’s Issues in Forced Migration. Her creativity find various avenues and she has a keen interest in theatre.
Nandini heads RAHI’s rural project. She is part of the women's movements in India and has been working in the development field for more than 20 years. She is a feminist trainer, counsellor and writer. She works on issues including women's empowerment and women's leadership, violence against women, gender-based violence, gender and disabilities, and gender and development. Nandini works with different groups, from women and communities at the grassroots, students, the police, teams from NGOs as well as corporate bodies; from newbie-level community workers to managerial and director level staff.
What inspires her most is sitting with women (preferably while drinking chai) while listening to their stories and songs of courage and resilience.
Rina D'Souza is Project Manager at RAHI Foundation, heading the Firebird and survivor work along with working among college students to create awareness on the issue. Rina comes from a background of education and environmental activism and has worked with children, youth and rural communities in the scope of her work.
With an abiding passion for the Himalayas, she is an avid backpacker and is happiest when trudging over mountains with books in her backpack for company. She is also a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and is hoping to get back to dancing soon."
Advocacy & Healing Serivces Associate
In her role at RAHI, Surabhi is involved in several projects focused on employing survivor voices to bring about social change. Her core responsibility is to carry out workshops and conduct lectures for college students on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse.
Surabhi also has an established career in the Indian real estate industry. Currently a freelancer, she has worked with several corporates and with both national and international clients for over ten years. She is currently working as a free-lancer. In the past, Surabhi has volunteered with RAHI as a part of the media and training team. These engagements have inspired her to study counselling and psychotherapy. The course is helping her to explore the depths of empathy for other people, a skill that is crucial in the kind of work she wishes to do with RAHI.
Based in Kolkata, Soma is responsible for initiating partnership development and networking with other individuals and organisations. She also plans, organizes and conducts awareness and training programmes, and represents RAHI at relevant platforms in the city and region.
With a Master's degree in Economics from Calcutta University, Soma has prior experience of working in the NGO sector with projects on HIV, Gender and Sexuality. Her core competence lies in advocacy and training. She advocated with several government departments in West Bengal to addres various issues - shelter provision of CLHIV and adolescent TG, legal protection for MTH community members, human rights concerns of MTH community and implementation of NALSA judgement and setting up of TG commission in West Bengal. She also has experience in qualitative research and has been associated with several research studies on and around MSM-TG-Hijra issue.
Soma who passionately believes in gender equality and women’s empowerment is a vocal activists for queer rights. She has written articles in famous Bengali dailies and magazines on various issues.