REEC, a local grassroots NGO based in Western Nepal, aims to prevent children engaging in child labour, while supporting those children already working. One such child is Bibek.
Bibek is 12 years old and is originally from Bhakimli, a small village in Myagdi District, mid-west Nepal. With very little land and not enough food to sustain them, Bibek’s family decided to move in search of work. They headed to Beni, a bustling town lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and numerous government offices, just five hours walk away. Not long after moving, however, Bibek’s mother left his father for another man. Although his father soon remarried, Bibek and his younger brother no longer wanted to live with him as he was an alcoholic and often turned violent, and so went to live with their grandparents.
With very little care and attention, Bibek, aged seven, started spending more and more time roaming the streets, scavenging, begging and carrying out menial tasks for a few rupees, such as transporting sand to and from the river. Bibek also started hanging around with other street children and smoking marijuana, often staying out at night.
After five years living and working on the streets, he met one of REEC’s outreach workers who encouraged him to visit REEC’s drop-in centre. This was not an easy task as Bibek was extremely wary of other people, but after a few meetings on the street, he decided to make an initial visit.
Bibek now attends the drop-in centre on a regular basis, although for the first couple of months his attendance was extremely irregular and on those occasions he did visit, he would often tear up books and destroy equipment. However, with ongoing care and support from the REEC team Bibek has started talking about his problems, helping him cope better with stress, deal with traumatic experiences, and develop his self-confidence. Although he does not want to attend educational classes at the centre, he has stopped using drugs and is once again living with his grandparents.
Although he is now back within a family environment, he may one day return to life on the streets without ongoing care and support - REEC is continuing to work closely with Bibek’s father and grandparents.