Indentured Daughters Program Outcomes • 2012
In rural Nepal, some families are so impoverished that they sell their daughters to be virtual slaves. Many of these girls are abused, almost none attend school, and some are forced into prostitution. After spending their childhoods as servants, the girls face great challenges learning to support themselves. Now boys are also being sold into bonded servitude.
The Nepal Youth Foundation is eradicating this inhumane tradition. NYF’s Indentured Daughters Program rescues girls from virtual slavery, brings them home to be educated, and empowers them to be self-sufficient.
The pioneering Indentured Daughters Program uses a multifaceted approach to free girls who were sold into servitude. For only $100, the Nepal Youth Foundation liberates a bonded servant, brings her home, gives her family a piglet, goat, or sheep as compensation for her wages, and ensures she can go to school – often for the first time in her life. NYF is eliminating the inhumane practice of enslaving girls in Nepal through a vigorous public awareness campaign that turns communities against the practice, as well as by rescuing bonded servants.
NYF has freed over 12,000 girls since the program began in 2000 and continues to benefit around 11,000 of them in diverse ways. 7,433 of the former servants are currently receiving scholarships. NYF has now liberated more than 98% of the bonded girls and is close to its goal of ending the custom.
The program has been so effective that schools in the area began to overflow with former indentured servants. To ensure the girls have access to quality education, NYF constructs classrooms in poorly funded schools. The organization has built 58 classrooms to date.
Some of the children NYF rescues are orphans and others are rejected or abused by their families. The organization has placed 367 of these girls in children’s homes where they are surrounded by other former bonded servants and feel a sense of family.
Due to the success of the project, wealthy families began buying boys instead of girls. A recent survey estimated that 1,814 boys younger than 14 were indentured in Nepal. NYF began to address this in 2011–2012 by liberating 650 of them. 547 are currently attending school.
Sustainability of the Program
Now that the vast majority of the bonded girls are free, the Nepal Youth Foundation has shifted its focus from rescuing them to empowering them to be independent and successful. In 2011-2012, almost 500 former bonded servants participated in trainings about topics such as cooperative management, marketing, self-employment, and small business management. These programs develop their confidence as well as their skills and enable them to start their own businesses. NYF arranged training in political activism and human rights for about 100 of the most dynamic girls who show the greatest potential to become leaders of the movement against bonding.
Under the auspices of NYF, many of the girls have been given incentives to form cooperatives that create financial opportunities for themselves and their families. NYF provides seed money for the girls to invest in the coops in order to get started. The Coop members collectively decide how to manage their business and how to use the money to generate income. They also borrow money from the cooperative profits to start individual business ventures. Due to the girls’ determination and newfound confidence, as well as the trainings provided, the coops have been extremely successful. To date, liberated girls have established 16 cooperatives and are in the process of forming 19 more.
Furthermore, former indentured servants have formed an NGO called the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF). NYF trains its members to carry out the awareness campaign against servitude which NYF started, and since June 2010, all of NYF’s work in the program area has been conducted through FKDF. FKDF is now organizing marches and public speeches, as well as mobilizing youth clubs, community leaders, and the media in the campaign to oppose bonded servitude. In collaboration with FKDF, NYF convinced the government of Nepal to fund the education and vocational training of all formerly bonded girls.
Because this money was not being allocated properly, in 2011-2012, NYF arranged for the leaders of FKDF to meet repeatedly with Nepal’s President, Prime Minister, Education Minister, and other high-ranking government officials. The Prime Minister promised that the government funding for the liberated girls would get to where it was needed.
Through FKDF and the cooperatives, former indentured daughters have established an extensive network throughout Western Nepal that empowers them to fulfill their dreams.
A Voice Against the Bonding System
My family of six could not manage even two decent meals a day and so my father sent me away to work as a servant. This was the start of my most miserable days in life. My daily routine was waking up at dawn, mopping the floor, scrubbing dishes, washing clothes, cleaning the shed, and collecting fodder for cattle. I had to do all of these jobs, even when my strength and health failed me. For all the work I did, my family got $20 per year. Almost every day I used to get beaten by the children of my master. There was no one to look after me when I was ill and most days I went to sleep without dinner.
After 2 years, I was rescued from this misery. I had always dreamed of getting an education. This year, I graduated from high school with honors.
Now I want to become a journalist so I can raise my voice against the bonding system. In future I would also like to be a lawyer so I can advocate for the needy and the voiceless people.
The Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) has been rescuing Nepali girls from virtual slavery as bonded servants since 2000, and has now liberated almost 12,000 girls. Formerly enslaved girls formed an association that they called the Freed Kamlaris Development Forum (FKDF), which they registered as a non-profit organization. Since July 2011, FKDF has taken over the activities of opposing the bonding practice that the Nepal Youth Foundation conducted. NYF continues to give the girls training, guidance, and any other support needed for their advocacy, networking, and income generating activities.
One of the biggest achievements of the year was the approval of the Guideline for Scholarship and Vocational Training for the Freed Girls. NYF had been struggling with the government for the guideline for over 3 years, and eventually, with its approval, the scholarship distribution process is taking place smoothly.
So far in 2012, 535 girls were rescued throughout western Nepal. At present NYF has 7118 girls in school. 370 girls who did not have acceptable homes to return to are staying in 8 different hostels.
IDP is focusing on the expansion of cooperatives as a strategy for economic empowerment of the girls and their families. 17 cooperatives are up and running while 19 more are in the process of formation. At the end of June, there were 880 share members with combined savings of more than 16 million rupees. The cooperatives provide loans to their members to start income generation projects, such as establishing shops and purchasing agricultural tools.
First, I would like to thank you for your generous contributions to our program to Free Bonded Nepali Girls (www.nepalyouthfoundation.org/programs/freedom). This project’s impressive accomplishments, including rescuing more than 12,000 Nepali girls from virtual slavery, would not be possible without the support of people like you.
Additionally, I want to tell you that I am retiring as the President of the Nepal Youth Foundation and that the Board has appointed Som Paneru, our former Executive Director in Nepal, as my successor.
This is bittersweet – on the one hand, I am leaving a position to which I had devoted the last 25 years of my life. On the other, I’m taking a step toward fulfilling my most ardent wish – that the Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) continue to provide life-changing help to the neediest children of Nepal. The appointment of Som as the new President will bring to NYF the skills, the passion, the smarts, the creativity, and the experience to assure its future long after I am gone. NYF has a bright future.
Let me tell you a bit about Som. He is a product of NYF’s scholarship program and the son of a poor farmer from the Ghorka District of Nepal. In the 1990s, after we granted him a scholarship to Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu to study science and math, he brought several of his young siblings to Kathmandu from his village to assure that they, too, would receive an education. He enrolled them in school in the city, and provided all the care they needed, and full support. Several of his siblings now have advanced degrees.
After Som graduated, he wanted to teach, but not in a private school for rich kids, but in a poor village where the instruction in science and math was pitifully inadequate. He explained that he had "a lot to pay back" to those who had helped him to get an education.
NYF was growing quickly, and in 1995 we offered Som a job. It became apparent very quickly that he had an uncanny knack for creating and administering programs. Our very popular Indentured Daughters Program was his idea, and he was instrumental in creating the ingenious "piglet for a girl" method to liberate these young girls from slavery (www.nepalyouthfoundation.org/programs/freedom). And it was his idea and his excellent relations with the Ministry of Health that led to the government agreeing to take over and fund all the 14 Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes we have built after we operate them for five years (http://nepalyouthfoundation.org/programs/health/nrhindex.html).
I will continue to be involved with NYF, of course. I hold the post of Honorary President, and will continue as a member of the Board of Directors. It is hard to exaggerate the pleasure your support and encouragement have given me over these many years. It has enabled NYF to grow from a tiny organization to what we are today – a well-run foundation providing transformative help to thousands of Nepali children every year.
Warm regards, Olga Murray Founder and Honorary Board President Nepal Youth Foundation
P.S. Please learn more about the Nepal Youth Foundation’s diverse programs for children in need at www.NepalYouthFoundation.org.
By Archana Chaudhary:
After two years, I was rescued from this misery. I had always dreamed of getting an education. This year, I graduated from high school with honors.
The Nepal Youth Foundation rescues girls from spending their childhoods enslaved as indentured servants, reunited them with their families, and enables them to attend school and vocational training, so they can become self-sufficient. NYF will soon eliminate the practice of selling Nepali girls into servitude. Learn more about this pioneering program at www.NepalYouthFoundation.org
P.S. To get the latest news about the Nepal Youth Foundation’s work for Nepali children in need, please join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nepalyouth
The Nepal Youth Foundation is eradicating this abhorrent tradition. NYF’s Indentured Daughters Program rescues girls from virtual slavery, brings them home to be educated, and empowers them to be self-sufficient.
NYF has freed 11,951 girls since the program began in 2000. 7,433 of them are currently receiving scholarships. NYF has now liberated more than 90% of the bonded girls and is close to its goal of ending the custom.
The program has been so effective that schools in the area began to overflow with former indentured servants. To ensure they have access to quality education, NYF constructs classrooms in poorly funded schools. The organization has built 58 classrooms to date.
Some of the girls NYF rescues are orphans and others are rejected or abused by their families. The organization has placed 357 of these girls in children’s homes where they are surrounded by other former bonded servants and feel a sense of family.
Under NYF’s guidance, many of the girls have formed cooperatives that create financial opportunities for themselves and their families. They invest in the coops to become members, and collectively decide how to use the money to generate income. They also borrow money from the cooperatives to start business ventures. Due to the girls’ determination and newfound confidence, as well as the trainings provided, the coops have been extremely successful. To date, liberated girls have established 16 cooperatives and are in the process of forming 12 more.
Because this money was not being allocated properly, in 2011-2012, NYF arranged for the leaders of FKDF to meet repeatedly with the President, Prime Minister, Education Minister, and other high-ranking government officials. The Prime Minister promised that the government funding for the liberated girls would get to where it was needed.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.