Free Bonded Nepali Girls

by Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF)
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Two proud college graduates
Two proud college graduates

Two young women who spent their childhoods as indentured servants have earned college degrees – the first freed Kamlari to graduate from college.

Saraswoti and Basanti were honored for their achievements by the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF) at a ceremony in the Dang District of Western Nepal in January. Saraswoti was awarded a bachelor’s of English and Basanti studied electrical engineering.

NYF rescued the young women 15 years ago and helped them get the education denied them by the dehumanizing practice of childhood slavery known as Kamlari.

More than 12,000 girls were indentured as household slaves before NYF launched a campaign in 2000 to end the practice, formally abolished by the government in 2013.

As a Kamlari for six years, Saraswoti fantasized about getting an education. “I was compelled to wash dishes and clothes throughout the day whereas kids of my age went to school,” she said.

Her father, who was also a bonded laborer, died when Saraswoti was seven and she was sold into indentured servitude.

NYF rescued Saraswoti in 2002 and she went back to school. Her family pressured her to marry when she was in 12th grade, but she didn’t let that get in the way of her education. “I continued my studies even after marriage,” she said.

Her goal is to earn a master’s degree and work to improve the lives of other Kamlari.

NYF rescued Basanti in 2001 and the young women returned to school, excelling in electrical engineering. She married and plans to continue her education.

These two young women have proven that freed Kamlari can change their lives, said Bimala, who is local chairwoman of the FKDF.

More than 5,000 girls are currently receiving support in school, junior college, vocational training or working towards a bachelor’s degree through NYF’s Empowering Freed Kamlari program, which helps former Kamlari become healthy, productive and independent young women.

Saraswoti honored for her accomplishment
Saraswoti honored for her accomplishment

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Former Kamlari at sewing class
Former Kamlari at sewing class

NYF rescued 363 girls from indentured servitude last year, bringing the total number of rescued Kamlaris to 12,702 since NYF began the campaign to end the centuries-old practice of indentured servitude in 2000.

The government officially banned the practice in June 2013, but it’s estimated that a few hundred girls may still remain enslaved in homes far from their families.

Our Indentured Daughters Program was twofold: to rescue the girls who had been sold into slavery and to abolish the practice going forward.

NYF is now focusing on helping these girls live healthy and productive lives. Some 4,403 Kamlaris are now going to school and college and another 987 are enrolled in vocational training programs. The young women have also started 51 cooperatives, with more than 5,000 participants.

Your support has helped to ensure that no young girl will ever again become a victim of Kamlari.

Namaste!

Former Kamlari in traditional Tharu dress
Former Kamlari in traditional Tharu dress

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Kilkumari tailoring school
Kilkumari tailoring school

Twenty young women freed from the practice of child slavery known as Kamlari recently began a tailoring class and are already producing an impressive array of clothing.

Once they complete the three-month training, they will have the skills needed to start their own tailoring businesses. They can borrow seed money from the loan cooperative operated by the Freed Kamlari Development Forum.

Former Kamlari Dil Kumari Chaudhary started the tailoring program in Nepalgunj, Nepal in 2014 with the help of Nepal Youth Foundation. Dozens of girls have already completed the training program.

The tailoring class is a part of NYF’s larger vocational training program for former Kamlari, which prepares young women for careers in farming, hairdressing, computer techs, electricians – even motorcycle mechanics.

Thank you for helping these young women make new lives.

Namaste!

Former Kamlari at sewing class
Former Kamlari at sewing class
Traditional Nepalese clothing crafted by students
Traditional Nepalese clothing crafted by students
Dress made by girls in seamstress school
Dress made by girls in seamstress school
Shirt made by students in training program
Shirt made by students in training program

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Health aides tend to injured earthquake victims
Health aides tend to injured earthquake victims

Nearly 40 former child slaves who were trained as health aides through the Nepal Youth Foundation’s vocational training program traveled from their remote village to Kathmandu, where they volunteered at our temporary recovery center for earthquake victims.

The young women spent two weeks following the April 25th earthquake changing bandages and soothing jittery nerves of the hundreds of survivors who stayed in our center following the massive earthquake.

We temporarily converted our nutrition center in Kathmandu and Pokhara to recovery centers for earthquake victims who were discharged from area hospitals but were too injured to return home. Many had no homes to return to.

The former house servants – girls as young as six who were sold as household slaves in a now banned practice known as Kamlari -- traveled six hours by bus from their homes to volunteer their time at the center.

“The response of the younger generation has been fantastic,” said Olga Murray, NYF’s founder who was in Kathmandu at the time of the earthquake. “So many young people came out to help in any way they could.”

Thank you for supporting our work during this difficult time in Nepal.

Namaste!

Tending to the injured
Tending to the injured
Mending broken limbs
Mending broken limbs

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Former Kamlari model their traditional attire
Former Kamlari model their traditional attire

Some former child slaves are learning a trade -- and taking great pride -- in designing, creating and promoting their traditional Tharu attire.

About 20 young women from the Tharu community of Western Nepal who were sold as domestic child slaves in a practice known as Kamlari are enrolled in a training program to design and tailor their authentic native dress.

The intricately designed costumes are in high demand among Tharu girls and women.

Manjita Chaudhary, a young woman NYF rescued from indentured servitude 15 years ago, is leading the training program. NYF supports the popular program through its Vocational Education and Career Counseling program (VECC).

NYF has rescued more than 12,300 girls from the practice of Kamlari since it launched its Indentured Daughters Program in 2000 and is now working to ensure that the girls become healthly, happy, independent young women.

The vocational training programs help to stimulate the cultural and economic development needed to ensure that no child will become a victim of Kamlari again.

Our staff provides structured counseling sessions and assessment tests, and then helps girls enroll in top quality training programs for a wide variety of careers. 82 percent of our graduates are currently employed - a remarkable achievement given that the unemployment rate in Nepal is 40-46 percent.

Thank you for your generous support.

Namaste!

Young Tharu women in their tradtional attire
Young Tharu women in their tradtional attire

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Organization Information

Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF)

Location: Sausalito, California - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.NepalYouthFoundation.org
Project Leader:
James McIntosh
Sausalito, CA United States

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