Rescue Girls from Bonded Servitude

 
$55,482 $0
Raised Remaining
Olga and two girls of K House, NYF
Olga and two girls of K House, NYF's girls' home

Dear Friends:

First, I would like to thank you for your generous contributions to our program to Rescue Girls from Bonded Servitude (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.

Olga with Som Paneru at her 87th birthday party
Olga with Som Paneru at her 87th birthday party

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Girls freed from bonded servitude by NYF
Girls freed from bonded servitude by NYF

By Archana Chaudhary:

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 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.

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 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

Formerly enslaved girls, now free to go to school
Formerly enslaved girls, now free to go to school

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Two former bonded servants at a children
Two former bonded servants at a children's home

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 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’s Solution

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

Through FKDF and the cooperatives, former indentured daughters have established an extensive network throughout Western Nepal that empowers them to fulfill their dreams.  

Girls rescued from servitude are now in school
Girls rescued from servitude are now in school
A girl saved from a childhood of bonded servitude
A girl saved from a childhood of bonded servitude

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Girls rescued by NYOF reflect on their troubled past
Girls rescued by NYOF reflect on their troubled past

Although the government of Nepal is undergoing more tumultuous changes, including a new Prime Minister, NYOF’s programs in Nepal are continuing to transform the lives of impoverished children and provide them with unimagined opportunities.

NYOF’s Indentured Daughters Program rescues girls from bonded servitude, sponsors their education, and provides each family with a piglet or goat to compensate for the income they would have gained from selling their daughter. We first introduced this program in the Dang district of Nepal in 2000, and we have virtually eliminated the bonding practice there. When we brought our program to Dang, fathers would boast about the number of daughters they had bonded away, local politicians would arrange labor contracts as favors to their constituents, the streets were filled with labor contractors coming to buy the girls’ services, and the bus park with frightened, weeping little girls about to be sent off they knew not where.

Today, nine years later, although a few girls are still bonded away in Dang, the arrangements are made between the fathers of the girls and the labor contractors on the sly and the family is looked down upon in the community. Thousands of liberated girls marched in a parade last January to celebrate their freedom, and at the rally that ended the parade, the Chief District Officer of Dang (similar to a Governor) declared Dang a zone free of bonded labor. For the first time ever in Nepal, the local police arrested the few labor contractors who dared to come to the district to make bonding arrangements. (The practice has been ruled illegal by the Nepali Supreme Court in a suit brought by NYOF.)

We recently visited the nearby Kailali district where the bonding custom is still prevalent because NYOF has not been able to start its abolition program yet. There, every January when the selling of girls takes place, men in leather jackets wearing dark glasses and sporting cell phones ride through the village streets on their motorcycles to buy child servants. One, a journalist, was there to renew the contract of a 16 year old. Another, who had engaged the services of a 10 year old in his home the previous year, also wanted to renew the contract and in addition, to buy another girl to work in his second home. The father refused an offer of $80 for a year of his daughter’s services, and the buyer went elsewhere to make his deal. As we discovered later, the father had already reached an agreement with another buyer for $95 for the year, half of it up front. (A price considerably higher than average.) All through these negotiations, Kausi, their daughter, sat silently and sadly on the bench in front of their hut, one parent on each side, as the adults haggled over the price of her future.

A couple of years ago, we extended our program to the Bardiya district, where it has been very successful - we have rescued about 1000 girls to date. With your support, we will soon eliminate the bonding tradition from Bardiya, and within a few years, from all of Nepal. Thank you for supporting some of the most disadvantaged children in Nepal.

Please let us know your thoughts about this project by providing feedback in our comments section!

NYOF rescued this girl and gave her family this goat
NYOF rescued this girl and gave her family this goat

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Children laboring in the fields
Children laboring in the fields

Despite the efforts of the Nepal Youth Foundation, desperate families in rural regions of Nepal continue to sell their own children into bonded servitude.  Now that NYF and the Freed Kamlari Development Forum have helped to educate the Nepali public about the practice, which has caused an uproar against the selling of young girls, these families are turning to selling their sons, who, as indentured servants are known as Kamlar.

Regardless of the gender of the child, this practice must stop!  Your donations are helping to turn the tide of public opinion against this practice.  Yet there are thousands of children who still need our help and are crying out to be rescued.

And, now, next Wednesday, March 14 ONLY...

... because we appreciate every dollar you have given to support our program, NYF is thrilled to invite you to participate in GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day event.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012, GlobalGiving.org will match 30% for every dollar you donate!  $50,000 in matching funds are available, but only on March 14.  This 30% matching offer begins right after the stroke of midnight, March 13, and runs only until the $50,000 is claimed. Once the funds are used, no more matching funds will be applied.

Add even greater value to the gifts you give NYF.  Mark your calendars for NEXT Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

And, GlobalGiving will make this 30% match for single contributions up to $1,000!  That’s $1,300 value for a $1,000 donation.

What this opportunity means for the Indentured Daughters Program is that the $1,000 gift that would normally fund the rescue of 10 enslaved children, will, on this one day, March 14, 2012, provide enough money to rescue a total of 13 little girls and boys to come home and return to school for the same donation.

 PLUS –

  • The organization that raises the most funds on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.
  • The organization that has the most unique donors on Bonus Day will receive an additional $1,000 from GlobalGiving.


Thank you again for your support of the Nepal Youth Foundation.  Namaste!

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Funded

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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Organization

Project Leader

Jackie Frost

Sausalito, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Rescue Girls from Bonded Servitude