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.
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