When Seattle-based Wildland alumni traveler, Debbie Daniels, called to ask if we would make a financial contributioin to her "Nepal 2015 Adventure" we said yes! Because Debbie was signing up for one of the most purposeful and meaningful adventures of her life: to help stop human trafficking of Nepalese girls. She was also going to help with the post-earthquake rebuilding campaign.
She was traveling in a small working group with our friend and colleague, Chris MacKay, founder of Crooked Trails
, a non-profit travel organization that operates some of the most impactful community-based tourism initiatives we know. When Debbie made the ask, Wildland contributed to this initiative, and we have subsequently committed to further supporting the Maiti Nepal project through our own Nepal treks and adventures
Here's Debbie's report:
The experience lives on and on inside of me.
I am only now able to write and share about my experience, and let you all know how your generosity impacted so many people.
You can’t imagine how huge --
How grateful everyone was who received the money that Wildland generously contributed.
It's impossible to express and thank you enough in words for supporting the Maiti Nepal program. I was so proud to give Anurada and Maiti Nepal
almost $13,000 from your contribution and those I received so generously from others!! Anurada was overcome with gratitude and happiness.
Please know that Anurada is a national treasure in Nepal. Truly, everyone there knows and honors her efforsts to stop the trafficking of Nepalese girls to brothels in India. The most trafficked girls in the world are Nepalese and Vietnamese (but it's shocking when you dig in and discover how much human trafficking there is in our own communities in Seattle and everywhere in the United States).
Anurada has been fighting for years completely on contributions from around the world, from those who find out about her and support her powerful efforts through personal accounts like this and efforts to spread the word by caring organizations like Wildland Adventures
Maiti Nepal, [it means Mother Nepal] handles Intervention, Rehabilitation and Prevention. We got to visit all aspects of this remarkable program.
Starting in Katmandu we visited her compound where girls who have been rescued live and are cared for; get rehab services both physical & psychological. They live in the compound, clean brick buildings with dorm room style accommodation. Schooling is provided on site in the mornings 6 days a week. Anurada knows the only way toward a future for these girls is to get a good education and learn job skills. [E.g., sewing or hotel work]
Imagine, there were 475 girls living there when I visited. And Anurada knows every girl’s name and her story. She is adored and honored by all. Girls are encouranged and supported at every opportunity to study hard and be active in their community. They have movement/dance therapy daily. We went to the inside courtyard and all 475 girls had assembled and were lead in traditional dance by some of the older girls. They were finding a way to heal from the terror and abuse they had endured by moving together, feeling life moving in their bodies and feeling wordless support from the entire group. After all – each of them had the same experience in the hands of traffickers and brothel clients.
Te girls were expected to turn 30-40 tricks a day in Indian brothels. HIV AIDS is a big problem; undereducated men are told that if they have sex with a young girl they will be cured. The girls are returned when they contract HIV AIDS. In response to this big problem, Anurada also had several Hospice sites for them to live their remaining life in dignity and care.
They had a spirit of ease and joy about them that showed me so much about the spirit of people and resilience. Being in their presence was so powerful, I found myself crying and crying. Although they were not sad at least outwardly.
We talked to girls and heard their dreams of going to college and becoming a doctor or engineer. They each have big dreams.
Maiti Nepal also operates in India to rescue the girls inside the brothels. Men posing as clients spend time gaining the trust of the girls and then preform a sting operation with the support of the local police.
At the southern Nepal border crossing that we visited traffickers prey on vulnerable undereducated girls, often from small villages offering them jobs in restaurants or the like. They give them money to prove this is real and tell them that they can send money home to their family. Manyof the traffickers are women who ensnare these girls by gaining their trust to have the girls walk across the border where they are met on the other side, India, and then driven to big city brothels.
Maiti Nepal pays formerly trafficked girls who have been through rehab to sit at 32 different border crossings watching for girls walking across the border and then question those they find suspicious: “Where are you going? Does your family know where you are? Who is meeting you in India?” These formerly trafficked girls have intuition that the rest of us do not have.
All this is supported by the military and police who sit with them at these crossings. There is a halfway house at every site and if there is a concern, they take the girls there to try to reach their parents and educate them about trafficking.
We joined a group of 20 volunteer military and police men and women in a minibus traveling around to poor villages educating them about the dangers of trafficking, putting flyers on their walls, and talking to them in their homes. This culminated in a street theatre presentation in a small town public square where they let all the children out of school to attend the program. There were a number of formerly trafficked girls who had studied street theatre improvisation to show villagers what happens to girls and how to possibly detect a trafficker. There were 400 people watching this performance. It was so well done and got the message out in a very real way that everyone could understand. What an amazing prevention model!
We also visited three Prevention homes that Maiti Nepal has built in remote poor villages where traffickers are likely to prey. They send a delegation to meet with the village elders to find out who are the most vulnerable 30 girls that have not been trafficked, and then they invite them to live in the compound. The compound houses up to 30 girls and they teach them to read/write, a job skill and all about trafficking. They live in the compound for 6 months, at no cost to them. Then they return to their villages and share with the other local girls about trafficking and how to avoid it. This is grassroots organizing at its best.
Maiti Nepal is making a difference.
Maiti Nepal is saving lives.
Maiti Nepal is giving people back their dignity, and creating a shift
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you on behalf of many girls who you have helped.
I will forever be impacted by this trip like no other trip I have taken. I will forever be a supporter of Maiti Nepal and be inspired by the mighty work of one individual.
THANK YOU Wildland so much for your care and generosity.
Interested in visiting Nepal see our Wildland Adventures trips to Nepal