The Indentured Daughters Awareness and Training Program was funded on the 12th of October 2009. You can view Kim Cheung’s presentation on this project here: NYOF Pre to Members Oct 09
June 19, 2009
Project : Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation (NYOF) Indentured Girls Program
Location : Dang district, Nepal
Project Leader : Kim Cheung
Funding status : Approved, pending final documentation
Budget : HK$83,085 (Requested US$10,652)
Corporate Funding Partner : None
Foundation Partner : None. This project was sourced by a New Day member.
Indentured Girls Program
In a remote area in five districts of western Nepal, impoverished families of the ethic community Tharus have been forced into a desperate trade – selling their daughters to labor contractors to work as house servants or as dishwashers in distant cities. For their daughter’s labor, the father gets an average of USD50 a year, and the child gets nothing. Most of the girls have never been away from home before. These “indentured daughters” have no knowledge of the ways of city people or of other cultures, and most speak only their local dialect, not the language of the families that employ them. Some are as young as six or seven. No one checks on how these children are getting along far from home. The situation is tailor-made for abuse. Very few of the girls attend school, and they have no prospects for a decent future. Some are ultimately forced into prostitution or simply disappear.
Horrific as this practice is, when you experience the poverty in the area, it is not difficult to have some sympathy for the parents. Some families have 10 children, and the average family income in Nepal is less than a dollar a day.
NYOF is determined to end this little-publicized practice. In January 2000, their representatives went to one of these districts, the Dang District, and offered each family a farm animal (piglet or a goat), a kerosene lamp, two liters of kerosene a month (so that the girls could study at night), a toothbrush and toothpaste in exchange for not selling their girl into a bonded labor program. In addition, NYOF enrolled all the girls in school and provided them with a school uniform, a book bag, copy books (imprinted with the slogan “Send girls to School – Eradicate the Bonded Laborer System”), and school fees.
NYOF also created an intensive awareness program in their efforts to eradicate the practice and turn these communities against this entrenched custom. They funded street plays written and acted by the freed girls about the suffering they endured while they were bonded, distribute flyers and posters, encourage the formation of anti-bonding clubs in the community, present a 15 minute radio show on local FM on Sunday nights (in which the formerly bonded girls talk about their experiences), and file lawsuits against employers who refuse to release the girls from bondage (NYOF funded lawyers whom convinced the Nepalese Supreme Court to outlaw bonded labor of girls in 2006 however the government is slow to prosecute). The freed girls themselves are NYOF’s greatest asset in this effort. They march in huge demonstrations through the towns in their school uniforms chanting and distributing flyers.
Having had a presence in the Dang District since 2000, the villages are festooned with hand-lettered signs saying things like: “This village is free of bonded laborers – the pride of our community!” “Send daughters to school!” “Girls in this village are not for sale!” And though it happens once in a while, the community views it as a disgrace if a family sells its daughter. Today, no labor contractor would dare show his face in the Dang District, and in fact, for the first time in Nepal’s history, a couple of dozen labor contractors who came to buy the girls were arrested.
By this method, 4000 girls have been rescued from bondage in the Dang District. Two years ago, NYOF expanded their program to the adjoining Bardiya District. NYOF have rescued about 1200 girls in Bardiya. We estimate that it will take five years to free the remaining 4,000-5,000 bonded girls.
NYOF Funding Request
NYOF was established in 1990, with the aim to transform the lives of impoverished Nepalese children by providing them with what should be every child’s birthright – education, housing, medical care, and loving support. NYOF is headed by Olga Murray, who is supported by Som Paneru, a Nepali, as well as staff in Nepal and California. NYOF’s good governance has been recognized by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities, which has granted NYOF a four-star rating, the highest possible, for effective and efficient administration of the donated funds.
NYOF Indentured Girls Program is looking for USD 10,652 for the annual cost of their awareness program and vocational training for the girls who have been freed in the Dang District. We feel that the success of the Awareness Program has shown that this is a worthwhile and effective program that has the potential to change many lives for the long term. The awareness program combined with the vocational training will provide hope for their future and the future of their families.
It is NYOFs aim to eradicate the custom altogether and prevent generations of young Nepali girls from a future of ignorance and back-breaking labor.