Using street theater, leaflets, posters, counseling sessions and house visits, NYF staff and counselors are working hard to encourage young women in western Nepal to stay in school and resist family pressure to marry early.
Last year, counselors reached nearly 2,500 teachers, parents, community members and girls who were formerly indentured servants through orientation sessions, street drama, house visits and leafleting public bulletin boards. Staff registered several cases of early marriage with the local police.
The project is part of NYF’s Empowering Freed Kamlaris program which helps former Kamlari girls become healthy, happy and independent young women. NYF has rescued more than 12,700 girls since launching our campaign against the Kamlari system in 2000.
Changing attitudes and ending the practice While marriage before the age of 18 is illegal, police and community members have tended to ignore the issue. Families often view their daughters as an economic burden and pressure them to marry, and this has been a particular problem for the girls we have rescued from Kamlari slavery.
NYF hopes to end the practice of early marriage by making girls, boys and their families aware of the negative health and economic consequences of dropping out of school and marrying young.
We have also formed 21 support groups for boys, with a total of 225 members. We’re happy to report that boys have enthusiastically embraced the cause and are sharing information with their families and communities.
NYF helped sixteen-year-old Santoshi, a former Kamlari servant, resist family pressure to get married. Suffering from severe depression, Santoshi’s friends encouraged her to join a NYF counseling support group where she learned to talk about her problems and develop strategies to deal with them. Counselors also visited her family and talked about how early marriage could negatively affect Santoshi’s life.
It’s working. Santoshi is now in NYF’s Vocational Education and Career Counseling program, where she is learning job skills and working hard to build a bright future for herself.
(Santoshi gave us permission to use her name and photo for this report.)
Thank you and dhanyabad!
Young village girls indentured as household slaves in faraway cities often endured harsh trauma and domestic violence in the homes of their “employers.”
And while now freed from the practice of indentured servitude known as Kamlari, these girls need help rising above these psychological traumas to rebuild their lives.
Counselors at Nepal Youth Foundation’s Ankur Counseling Center in Kathmandu have trained 119 former Kamlari as peer counselors and 55 of these peer counselors are now leading support groups to help other freed slaves rebuild their lives.
So far, the peer counselors have formed 145 support groups with 2,025 members. The groups meet monthly for group counseling. Girls that need extra support or individual counseling meet with Ankur center therapists.
NYF rescued more than 12,300 girls from slavery and is helping them to start new lives.
Peer counselors also visit schools and hostels to talk to young women about issues such as bullying, academic performance, and the challenges of transitioning from slavery to independence. They also visit the girls in their homes to talk to families about early marriage, gender discrimination and domestic violence.
Thank you for your generous support.
Even when the Nepal Youth Foundation is able to rescue a child from hunger and want, it is not always as easy to free that child from the nightmares that remain in the wake of harsh trauma, domestic violence and extreme poverty these children have endured. Ankur Counseling Center (ACC) was established in 2006 as a place to give the children of NYF the psychological counseling needed to recover their mental health as they are being restored to physically healthy, happy lives in NYF's other programs. Last year, NYF counselors reached 2,111 children and youth through individual and group counseling, home visits and peer counseling. We are also providing psychological services to children outside our programs.
The only such center in Nepal, counselors help children with time management, memory enhancement, relationship building, and dealing with strong emotions, building trust, and strategies for coping with stress.
Ankur staff also provides training for people who work with and for children. Last year, 234 people attended workshops covering topics ranging from parenting skills to bullying.
Thank you for helping us to care for these vulnerable children.
As the only psychological counseling center for youth in Nepal, the Ankur Counseling Center is spreading its message – and methods to people who work with children.
Last year, it provided nearly 300 teachers, counselors, and child care professionals with training in a range of topics, including bullying, child rearing practices, clay therapy, peer counseling, psychological intervention, self-esteem, and counseling for people affected with HIV.
The center takes seriously its responsibility to teach adults who work with children how to create psychologically healthy environments.
One six-day-training, called “Psychological Intervention for Understanding and Dealing with Children and Youth”, was offered to 24 teachers from a school in Nepal. Another session for intern counselors examined strategies for helping HIV affected children and their mothers.
The center is also expanding its peer counseling program, and last year trained 10 more young people to serve as peer counselors in their youth hostels. There are currently 50 peer counselors who work girls who were formerly indentured as household servants in a practice known as Kamlari.
Thank you for helping us help these children.
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.
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.