Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF)

The Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF; formerly the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation, NYOF) is devoted to bringing hope to the most destitute children in the beautiful but impoverished Himalayan country of Nepal. With a personal touch, we provide these children with what should be every child's birthright - education, housing, medical care, and loving support. Empowered to reach their potential, these children blossom, enriching the world we all share.
Apr 2, 2008

Letter from NYOF and our project on PBS's NOW

Here is a letter from Olga Murray to the generous supporters of NYOF. Also, be sure to watch PBS' program featuring this project and Olga’s work. This program is scheduled to appear on PBS’s NOW series in early April (April 4 for those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area). For your local broadcasting dates and times, please visit the link below. Also see the attached document for some pictures and more details on the PBS program.

Dear Friends,

Spring has sprung here in Kathmandu, I am glad to say. It’s been a cold and messy winter, with shortages of petrol, cooking gas, and eight hours of electricity cutoff a day. The lines at the gas stations are literally miles long; I am astonished, as always, at the patience and good spirits of the Nepali people, who carry on cheerfully against all odds.

But not all is bad news. In west Nepal in January, we had a big celebration to mark the almost-eradication in the Dang District of the inhumane custom of bonding little girls away to work as servants for families in distant cities. We have been working in Dang since January 2000 to stamp out this terrible practice, and as many of you know, we have devised an ingenious method to do so. The not-so-secret weapons in this battle are a baby piglet and girl power.

Each family that agrees to allow its daughter to remain at home and not bond her away receives a piglet or a goat that they can sell at the end of the year for about the same amount as they received for their daughter’s labor. NYOF enrolls the girls in school and pays all their education-related expenses. Simultaneously, we operate a vigorous awareness program to turn the community against this well-established practice. It is the liberated girls who are the most energetic and passionate in spreading the word against the custom and convincing parents not to send their daughters away.

On January 15, the festival day on which the girls are bonded away, more than 2300 girls liberated by NYOF marched in a demonstration in opposition to the bonding practice, and to celebrate their freedom and the virtual eradication of the practice in Dang. I was among them, marching and chanting, with more enthusiasm than comprehension. True, a small number of girls are still bonded away, but this is done under the table and with a sense of shame. Our crusade has been so successful that labor contractors, who used to flood the villages on the festival day, no longer come openly to “buy” the girls. And politicians who used to arrange the bondage of a family’s daughters for a few dollars as a favor to a constituent now do just the opposite –they offer to reunite the family and enroll their daughter in NYOF’s program. As a result, whereas in prior years, in the Dang District, thousands of girls were sent off each year to the homes of strangers to work as virtual slaves, some of them weeping openly at the impending departure from their homes and families, now only a few are clandestinely contracted away.

Much of the credit goes to the liberated girls themselves, who have formed clubs, created and acted in street plays, and distributed posters and flyers to turn the community against the practice. Shiva, one of the first girls rescued under NYOF’s program, is now a freshman in college and a leader in her community against the bonding custom. She and other girls previously returned have created a “forum” to combat the custom. While I was in Dang in January for the celebration, they invited me to a meeting. I was given a rousing reception - covered with garlands and red paste on my forehead – the sign of welcome and respect in Nepal. I asked each of the girls to tell me their stories; the description of their suffering filled me with anger and pity in equal proportions. Their most emotional moments came when, their voices quavering, they expressed their resolve that their younger sisters would never, ever, be subjected to the same ordeal as they were.

But the job of eradicating this custom is far from done in spite of our great success in Dang. About 10-15,000 girls, some as young as six or seven, are bonded away annually in five districts in west Nepal. In January, at the same time we were celebrating in Dang, we took the show onthe road and started our eradication campaign in the adjoining district of Bardiya, where we estimate that about 2000 girls are indentured annually. We need your help. Our goal is nothing more or less than to eradicate this appalling practice from Nepal, once and forever.

We have the know-how, experienced local staff, and the zeal to make this happen. All we need is the financial support of people like you. It costs only $100 to rescue a girl, bring her home to live with her family, provide them with incentives to make up for her lost wages, pay her school expenses for a year, and conduct our super-effective awareness campaign to turn the community against the practice.

Watch the PBS documentary, and you will see, live and in color, the stories of the children who are victims of this practice, hear their parents’ heart-breaking reasons for sending them away, and learn how NYOF is working to make a better life for them.

Warm regards,

Olga

Links:


Attachments:
Feb 25, 2008

Dang District Free of Bonded Servants!

Olga’s dispatch from Kathmandu

Dear Friends:

It’s a while since I have been in touch. I arrived in Nepal at the end of November for my annual six month stay. It’s good to be back again to resume my second life and to see how our programs are going.

I returned last week from the Dang District in west Nepal, where we operate our program for indentured girls. It was a thrilling experience. For one thing, we have almost eradicated the bonding custom in the Dang District (one of five in which it is prevalent) and moved on to the adjoining district to do the same. To celebrate, a huge demonstration was organized – over 2000 girls who had been rescued from bondage marching through the main town, chanting slogans against the practice and distributing flyers to the onlookers. A certain 82 year old woman was by their side, striding along and mouthing the slogans with more enthusiasm than comprehension. At times, I had a sense of unreality – how did someone who grew up in New York and was a lawyer in San Francisco for 37 years end up in remote west Nepal, marching with thousands of formerly bonded girls against a feudal custom? Life is unpredictable, to say the least.

We visited the beautiful but very poor villages, talking to the parents of formerly bonded girls and to their daughters about their experiences. At times, it was painful, with the mothers crying when they remembered the departure of their daughters for who-knows-where to live with and work for strangers. One child had been sent away when she was six years old to labor as a baby sitter in someone’s household. She returned before the one-year period of her contract had expired, because she was so painfully homesick and cried constantly for her mother. She is now nine – a lively, pretty, curious child. It was hard to believe that she had undergone such a traumatic experience so recently. She jumped rope, played hopscotch, peered curiously into the contents of my purse, and laughed at almost anything. This extraordinary resilience of Nepali children is one of their most outstanding and appealing characteristics. Tethered to a tree trunk near us was the goat (now pregnant) we had given her parents to compensate for her lost wages.

What was most heartening was to spend time with the girls who had returned from working as servants years ago – l6, l7, l8 years old, now in school, and passionate about ending the bonding custom. I was invited to a meeting of the club they had formed for this purpose, and was very impressed with their intelligence, enthusiasm – and beauty. When they spoke about their experiences while they were contracted away, their voices quivered as they emphasized that whatever else happens in their lives, their little sisters would not suffer the same fate. It is these young women who will shape the future of their downtrodden community with their insistence on justice and education for Tharu girls.

We were accompanied by a film crew that is making a documentary about the bonding practice. We will send you a copy of the film when it is finished and notify you when it is aired on television. Thank you for your support of NYOF over the years, which has enabled us to improve the lives of thousands of impoverished Nepali children. We would be most appreciative if you can send a donation to help us to educate the thousands of girls who have recently been freed from bondage and liberate the thousands who are still indentured. Warm regards, Olga

Dec 17, 2007

"Growing" Healthy Kids at the NRH

Amar Before
Amar Before

Our Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes for severely malnourished children continue to restore hundreds of infants and toddlers to good health each year and to educate their mothers about nutrition and good child care practices. We now have six of these facilities scattered throughout the country. The main one in Kathmandu, which serves as a training and support center for all the others, is funded largely by the generosity of the dZi Foundation in Colorado. The capable and devoted staff has perfected the art of training illiterate young mothers in good child care practices. This year, we will add three new facilities in remote parts of Nepal, some of which were inaccessible during the years of the Maoist insurgency. This is to serve the large number of mothers who cannot come to Kathmandu with their starving children. We are also starting a pilot program of nutrition camps in isolated areas. This will involve sending teams of medical personnel and nutritionists to examine the local children, show the mothers and other relatives of the children how to prepare nourishing supplements made of locally available foodstuffs, and refer very malnourished children to the nearest NRH for rehabilitation. Then we will conduct two follow-up camps to assess the effectiveness of our approach. Such a program is much needed, since half the children younger than five years of age are malnourished, and this is a leading cause of death among this age group.

Nepal is a country of strong traditions, and these include traditions about child rearing. We have found that mothers we have trained in good child care methods at the NRH are sometimes unable to practice them when they return to their villages because the matriarch of the house – the mother-in-law – insists that traditional (and sometimes harmful) customs be followed. For this reason, our camps will also focus on educating the mother-in-laws who have such a powerful influence over the rearing of children.

Because this letter would not be complete without a few pictures of the thousands of children the NRH has restored to health, please see the links below. To restore a malnourished child to blooming good health costs about $250, which includes an average of five weeks of hospitalization and training the mother in good child care practices to be sure that the problem does not recur.

Amar After
Amar After
Ashwara Before
Ashwara Before

Links:

Donation Options
An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF)

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) on GreatNonProfits.org.