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.
Jun 18, 2014

Olga Murray Reflects on Kamlari Freedom Day

Olga Murray marching with freed Kamlari
Olga Murray marching with freed Kamlari

 Dear Friends,

The day of the Maghe Sankranti festival this year, January 15, 2014, was a very special one for the daughters of the Tharu community of Western Nepal. Unlike past festivals, they didn’t have to worry that their parents would sell them off as “Kamlari,’ or indentured servants.

“Kamlari Freedom Day” — celebrated with a march, and many speeches by government “thulo manchhes” (big shots) — was also special for me. It was a once-in-a-lifetime-I-never-thought-I’d-see-the-day event!

NYF ignited a movement
Since 2000, NYF has been working to eradicate this pernicious custom by liberating over 12,000 girls from bondage and bringing them home to live with their families, providing their parents with a piglet or a goat to make up for the girls’ wages, placing the liberated girls in school, and carrying out an energetic awareness campaign to turn the Tharu mothers and fathers against the practice. This, along with lawsuits against employers who persisted in enslaving their little girl servants and heavy lobbying with the government, has brought freedom not only to the present generation of child servants, but to their daughters and their daughters’ daughters as well.

As I sat on the stage for what seemed hours, I harkened back to the time of my first visit to Dang thirteen years ago, almost to the day. That time, the context was entirely different. I thought of the little orphan girl I saw that day sobbing relentlessly by her uncle’s side, begging not to be sent back to work for her callous employer — while her uncle told us, without shame, that he had sold her and her sister to pay for the cost of his son’s wedding.

Freedom for future generations
I was similarly clueless about what was being said by the many speakers on Kamlari Freedom Day, but I knew with certainty that that little girl did not spend the rest of her childhood as a kitchen slave, and that this was true of other Tharu girls of her generation and generations to come. The proof was before my eyes, as I looked down at a sea of faces of freed, assertive former Kamlari, including 30 who had just passed their college entrance examinations and were headed for higher education.

When it came my turn to speak, I wish I could have just shouted the Tharu equivalent of “You go girls!”

Thank you everyone, for supporting NYF through the years and helping to make this amazing new freedom possible.

With appreciation,

Olga Murray
Founder & Honorary President

Olga Murray honored at Kamlari Freedom Day
Olga Murray honored at Kamlari Freedom Day
Gita is one of 42 Kamlari rescued this year
Gita is one of 42 Kamlari rescued this year
Swastika was also rescued this year
Swastika was also rescued this year

Links:

Apr 29, 2014

NYF's job training grads are beating the odds

Renu trained as a midwife
Renu trained as a midwife

Nearly half of all Nepalis – even those with advanced college degrees – cannot find a job. Yet plumbers and electricians are often recruited from neighboring countries because most young people in Nepal lack training in these and other skilled jobs.

Unfortunately, vocational counseling and training is severely lacking in Nepal, and without this kind of support many young people languish in unemployment and poverty.

But our Vocational Education and Career Counseling Program (VECC) is helping to change that. VECC has trained hundreds of electricians, plumbers, hairdressers, computer technicians, midwives, auto-mechanics and cooks since the program began in 2007 — and more than 80 percent of our graduates are now employed.

Talented young people like Amrita will begin a career as an electrical engineer after she completes her training at Balaju Technical Schoolin Kathmandu. The 15-yar-old passed the challenging School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam, required of all Nepali students to graduate from high school, and won a coveted spot in the vocational program. Amrita entered her training with an eagerness to learn and a big dream — she wants to solve Nepal’s chronic power shortage by building more hydro-electric power systems.

Last year, we provided career counseling services to 1,200 young people and enrolled 475 youth in both short and long-term training programs. Before starting any course of training, students take a series of interest and aptitude assessments. VECC staff work with each student to help them decide whether to pursue higher education or vocational training for a particular career path. Our staff has conducted extensive research throughout Nepal to identify vocational courses that provide high quality training and have proven success in placing young people in satisfying jobs.

VECC staff then identify the best training program for each student's chosen field, pays for the cost of training, and helps them to find jobs. In some cases, VECC provides graduates with support for starting a small business of their own.

Asmita was sent away from her family and spent five years of her childhood working as a Kamlari indentured servant before NYF rescued her in 2004. After high school, we sponsored Asmita in an agricultural training program, and then she started her own farm with a loan from the freed Kamlari business co-op. Now Asmita tills the fields with her family by her side. She's also trained 40 other former Kamlari in farming to help ensure their independence.

Renu learned a trade and is studying for a college degree. Smart and hardworking, she received an NYF scholarship and finished high school, passing the SLC exam. Renu then completed the 18-month Auxiliary Nurse Midwife training program and now earns 15,000 rupees ($150) a month (good money in this impoverished country) helping to deliver babies at a small clinic in Western Nepal. But Renu still has larger ambitions, and so she continues in college working towards a bachelor’s degree.

Thanks in large part to the generosity of our supporters, the VECC program is proving to be a highly effective means of putting impoverished youth on a track for life-long success.

 

 

 

http://www.nepalyouthfoundation.org/programs/vocational-education-career-counseling/

Amrita is studying electrical engineering
Amrita is studying electrical engineering
Asmita tills a successful vegetable farm
Asmita tills a successful vegetable farm

Links:

Apr 29, 2014

Breaking taboos around mental health

Children learn to protect themselves from bulllies
Children learn to protect themselves from bulllies

In a country where talking about mental health is taboo, Chhori Maharjan has started a new dialog. As director of NYF’s Ankur Counseling Center - the only such center for children and young adults in Nepal -- Chhori is proud of the center’s role in changing attitudes towards psychological treatment.

“In Nepal, everyone thinks that counseling is only for psychotic people,” Chhori said in a recent interview in her office in Kathmandu. “We have worked really hard to help people understand that counseling can help everyone. We make counseling easy and accessible for our children and youth. We let them know that it is OK to talk about and share their feelings. This is what we are changing.”

The center has treated more than 3,900 children and young adults in NYF’s programs since it opened in 2006. Some children have suffered unspeakable trauma, and have found healing through Ankur’s innovative sand and play therapies.

“We are a pioneer of children’s counseling because we are using therapies that work for children,” Chhori said. “Children don’t really have words to explain their experiences, thoughts and emotions. We encourage our children to express themselves through play therapy.”

The counseling center is part of NYF’s holistic approach to caring for the children in our programs. In addition to food, shelter and education, many of these children need help rebuilding their lives and are learning to write new stories for themselves.

Mental health professionals and academics in Nepal are also flocking to the center to learn about the latest therapies. Center staff regularly offers trainings for teachers, therapists who work with children.

More than 2,500 caregivers and teachers have attended training sessions at Ankur.

Children share their feelings at group counseling
Children share their feelings at group counseling
Ankur
Ankur's dynamic director Chhori Maharjan
A child
A child's sand play creation

Links:

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