We are two girls, Venya (14) and Gauri (13) trying to make a difference, however small, toward ending the trafficking of girl children in Nepal.
Nestled in the Himalayas, Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the World. Our association with this country started off in 2015 when we went on a trek in the Langtang region on the remote Tibetan border. We spent 5 days walking the trails and interacting with the friendly villagers along the way and were completely hooked with their simple lifestyle and the splendid mountain vistas.
After our trek, we boarded our flight in Kathmandu on April 25, 2015 at 11AM. At 11.56 AM, while we were in the air enroute to Delhi, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal with an epicenter close to the area where we were trekking just 5 days earlier! The trails and villages we had been on were completely devastated. We were incredibly lucky to have flown out of Nepal less than an hour before the earthquake hit and ours was the last commercial flight to leave Kathmandu that day. Our friends there suffered immensely in the days and months to come living in makeshift tents while aftershocks continued.
Having lived privileged lives in Atlanta and Bangalore, while being able to attend the best schools, we were unprepared to see the plight of children in rural Nepal. While in Langtang, the thing that struck us the most was the lack of educational infrastructure and facilities available to children. The more we researched this the more we realized why Nepal is at the center of the worldwide girl trafficking problem. The earthquake made things worse in the remote areas due to the devastation and children being separated from their parents. We realized that we could make a difference by spreading the word and supporting a just cause.
We researched players who were making an impact and found Maiti Nepal, an organization dedicated to combating girl trafficking. Last year we started our mission to raise funds towards this cause by hiking the Manaslu trail. We spent 12 days doing a 150 km loop around Mt. Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the World. While on the trail we spent time in far flung villages and tried to better understand the dynamics of the trafficking of girls. We stayed with families in these villages whose only source of income was hosting hikers like ourselves or small scale farming. In situations like this abject poverty forces parents to send their girls away with local touts who promise to place these girls into respectable jobs which generate income that can help the families. UNESCO estimates that nearly 12,000 women and children are trafficked out of Nepal every year, within the country and out of the border to India. They are mainly used as bonded labor for working in mines and factories, as domestic servants, circus entertainers, for commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriages and for organ removal.
At the end of our trek we spent some time at Maiti Nepal and its founder Mrs. Anuradha Koirala. Mrs. Koirala and her staff introduced us to some of the rescued girls that they were taking care of. Maiti was helping these girls by educating them and giving them marketable skills like sewing and craft making. Additionally, Maiti realized that these girls not only needed economic means to survive but also medical and psychiatric care to help heal the physical and mental wounds that these girls had suffered at the hands of their traffickers. Their wonderful facility provided boarding, education, medical, psychiatric care and vocational training facilities for hundreds of girls and made a real difference in their lives.
How we would like to continue to make a difference:
During our Spring break, we are travelling back to Nepal between the 7th and the 27nd of April. We plan on visiting the Khumbu/Everest region, and doing the Three Passes Trek. While last year’s Manaslu Trek only involved crossing one high pass (5100m/16,700ft), this 19 day trek will involve crossing three snowbound passes, all of which are more than 5300m (17,300ft) and topping out at 5545m/18,200ft. We will physically and mentally challenge ourselves like we have never done before and would like to dedicate this trek towards raising awareness against girl trafficking and raising more funding for Maiti Nepal (www.maitinepal.org), an organization that is at the forefront of fighting for the prevention of girl trafficking.
Many of you supported our effort last year and we look forward to getting your continued support on our initiative this year. Your valuable contribution will provide Maiti funding towards making a difference in their fight against girl trafficking.