Imagine what the girls have been through when they arrive in this halfway home shelter.
So far this year 38 girls have been rescued from the horrors of human trafficking and have been supported and rehabilitated through this project. Many of them were trafficked across the border to India and then had to be repatriated back to Nepal.
Most girls are heavily traumatised, suffer from sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and are far from stable and independent. It is critical that they receive a range of support at the halfway home and go through a number of steps before they can return to their families and to normal life.
First, they receive medical support and psychosocial counselling; this is critical to help them deal with their trauma. They also participate in a legal orientation, where the staff teach them about the laws and their rights around child abuse, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. Then the girls decide whether they want to file a case of human trafficking in the court and so far this year, 6 cases have been filed.
While the girls reside in the halfway home they all receive some form of education; one third of the girls receive formal education. When they return after school, the halfway home teacher provides them with after-school tuition and supports them with their homework.The other girls who don’t attend formal schooling participate in non-formal education at the shelter. Non-formal education is provided by the halfway home teacher to those beneficiaries who are illiterate. It is a bridge course to teach the girls basic literacy and numeracy (i.e. as elementary as the alphabet and numbers) before they start school. It is also given to those who join the shelter home in the middle of the year and are unable to go to formal school. Some girls have also started undertaking vocational training courses, including in jewellery-making or hospitality, through the national Council of Technical Education and Vocational Training or registered private agencies. The halfway home also does job placement for the girls, so that they can have decent work if they are not enrolled in formal education or vocational training.
As this is a halfway home shelter, it is not a short-term, immediate needs shelter or a long-term home. Hence, the aim is to support girls in the medium term to develop their physical, mental and social wellbeing, as well as get on a path towards independence. This includes equipping them with skills and/or jobs, so that they can then gradually return home with their families or reintegrate in urban areas to find decent work.
An in-depth risk assessment is always done by the staff before the girls return to their families. This is one of the most essential tasks before the girls can go home. It maps and traces out any possible risks of the girls being re-trafficked. This is because girls are often trafficked by family or extended family members, neighbours and other community members or traffickers in their local village who lure girls into false promises of a high-paid job in the city. If there are no risks found in their community, the girls return home and the staff follow up with them once a month to check their situation and if they are resettling well. If any risks are found during the risk assessment, the girls are referred to another organisation for long-term shelter and support, as going home may be dangerous for them. Sadly this can often be the case, which is why it is so necessary that the girls receive education, vocational training, job placement and other skills at the halfway home, which enables them to lead an independent life where they can make strategic life choices.