ChoraChori Blog


Read our Blog

ChoraChori’s schools’ projects for 2018

Support to schools is a key element of ChoraChori’s work in Nepal. This will continue to be the case this year as we reach out to new schools in Kathmandu valley and beyond!

Historically we have rebuilt primary schools that were destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes and supported Kitini College, one of the best state secondary schools in Nepal. This year we plan capital projects at Shree Buddha and Shree Ganesh Secondary Schools in Kathmandu valley and at Indreni Secondary School which lies in Panchthar District, east Nepal.

Shree Buddha Secondary School has an attendance of 350 pupils and lies in a rural village in Lele, Lalitpur District, close to Kathmandu. The village has no piped water supply and the villagers and students rely on river water. Recently this water has turned muddy because of contamination from nearby brick kiln factories. To make matters worse there are no toilets in the school and children use the bank of the river for open defecation. Bodies are even cremated on the opposite river bank. With Kathmandu valley already prone to cholera outbreaks (as a result of faecal contamination of water supplies) this is a disaster waiting to happen. Also, the lack of toilets is given as a major reason for girls dropping out of school after they reach puberty or for non-attendance during menstruation. Accordingly, the Principal of the school has asked if we can help with the construction of boys’ and girls’ toilets, the installation of water tanks and a water purifier. See the film above to find out more.

Shree Ganesh secondary school is attended by 147 pupils and also lies in an outlying village in Kathmandu valley. Most of the students come from the highly marginalised Danuwar community. The majority of the students are girls (85 girls vs 62 boys). This is a reflection of parental discrimination in that they choose to invest what money they have in their sons by sending them to better resourced private schools. So, their daughters have to attend Shree Ganesh school which, for example, teaches computing even though it has only two functioning antiquated computers. This kind of under-resourcing is scandalous, but by no means unusual in Nepal government schools. We would like to redress the educational imbalance by providing the school with 10 new computers that will allow the set up of a computer laboratory and the transformation of the students’ options.

The third school is Indreni Secondary School which lies in Panchthar District, in east Nepal (pictured above). It has 478 students in Grades 1-12 and, once again, the vast majority of pupils are girls (298 girls vs 180 boys). Seventy percent of students are from the scheduled “janajati” castes, including a large proportion of Dalit children (“untouchables”). As per Shree Ganesh School, there are no computer facilities and we would like to set up a computer laboratory with 10 new computers.

These developments will cost us £12,546 and we already have £2,500 in place thanks to our friends at Hatemalo. If you’d like to help us level the educational playing field for boys and girls in Nepal then please support us through the button below.donate to ChoraChori

A fairy tale ending for Bikram?

Displaced Nepali boy Bikram overjoyed to find his family roots.

When ChoraChori field staff took Bikram to Lamjung District this week to trace his family he was in for some surprises.

In December 2015 twelve year old Bikram Dulal wasn’t at all convinced that he wanted to return to Nepal. He was one of 29 children that ChoraChori was repatriating after rescuing them from hideous “children’s shelters” in Delhi. But Bikram had very little to return to. Or so he thought.

He came originally from a village in hilly Lamjung District, several hours’ drive to the west of Kathmandu. When he was four years old his father had gone off in search of work and just disappeared. His mother then left Bikram and his sister with her father and went her own way. Unfortunately his grandfather was an alcoholic and, neglected, Bikram drifted into a life on the streets. He roamed around the District town of Besisahar for several years, stealing when necessary, before he and some other boys decided they would try their luck in India. That journey ended with imprisonment in the children’s shelter in Delhi.

ChoraChori always tries to reunite children with their families and Bikram’s case proved to be one of the more difficult ones. This explains why he has been with us for just over two years. He maintained that he knew nothing about his father’s side of the family and that he had nothing to return to in Lamjung. It took a lot of convincing for him to set off on Wednesday this week with ChoraChori staff Shailaja and Anila to try and trace his family.

The trip involved a lot of detective work and some good fortune. First they found his mother’s sister who was working in a café in Besisahar. She directed them to the mother’s family home but en route they met Bikram’s maternal grandfather. It was 1 p.m. and he was already drunk. However he was able to tell the team where Bikram’s father’s family lived, a village called Kunchha. There they found the family home where Bikram met his grandmother (pictured above) and discovered that his real surname was Ghaire, not Dulal. He also met his aunt who was able to tell him that his sister was staying with another aunt in a different town. Bikram’s father had been the only son so Bikram was now the owner of a small plot of land (pictured left)! Everyone was overjoyed at seeing him again as indeed was Bikram at the interactions.

We have agreed that Bikram should return to our refuge to allow him to complete his Grade 6 at the local school. After that he can return to his family where his late father’s cousin will look after him with a little support from us to cover educational expenses. His family will also follow up obtaining his citizenship papers and inheritance rights.

What a result!

Vocational training success!

Uday completes his vocational training and starts a first job.

When ChoraChori rescued runaway Uday from India at the start of 2017 he had nothing, least of all a family, to return to. Now he has a vocational training certificate and a job to show for his diligence and our support.

Uday was one of 33 children whom ChoraChori rescued from India in March 2017. We have successfully reunited most with their families but were left with a residual challenge; what to do with those whose families couldn’t be found or where there was no functional family unit to return to? We always prioritise academic education but some returnees lack the ability to succeed in school or have been out of the system for just too long to have any prospect of catch up. For such children we consider vocational training options, both in-house and contracted out.

Last August we placed two lads at the highly regarded Sano Thimi vocational training college in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Unfortunately one of them packed his bags a few weeks later and left in the night for reasons unknown. The other, Uday, stuck with the course and has now passed the college exams, securing a first division pass at 77.8%. He has moved seamlessly into his first job as a light vehicle service mechanic at a workshop where he is excited to be earning a salary. Two more refuge boys, Raja and Prakash, are following in his wake as they embark on a six month residential course, also to become light service vehicle mechanics (pictured left). Like Uday, they know nothing of their families’ whereabouts and now is their chance to make good too.

In three days’ time a third refuge boy, Youshan, will be joining a six month Culinary Arts course at the Global Academy of Tourism and Hospitality Education (GATE). Graduates from GATE are guaranteed jobs in top hotels in Nepal and abroad, so the world could soon by Youshan’s oyster.

Training and hostel fees for Raja and Prakash costs £500 each, while Youshan’s course and support costs will be £1,150. If you can help us by becoming a short term sponsor, a champion, for one of these boys then please contact Philip Holmes using the button below.




A key role for ChoraChori in fighting violence against girls in Nepal

Fighting violence against girls in Nepal

As concerns grow internationally about the unseen violence and abuse of girls and women, ChoraChori will play a key role in fighting such violence against girls in Nepal, bringing support to the victims and justice to the perpetrators.

The statistics on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nepal are truly shocking. The Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2016 found that 23% of women had been subject to physical, emotional or sexual violence with 7% having experienced sexual violence. So often this goes unreported for fear of stigma or through lack of support services. For those who do seek help the vast majority turn to family (65%) followed by neighbours (31%) and friends (22%). Only 8% ask help from the police and 2% from social welfare organisations. In areas such as Tipling, where we operate, violence and abduction against girls seems to be treated as a social norm.

The Government of Nepal has made some effort to address the problem of GBV. In 2010 the Ministry of Health and Population in coordination with the Ministry of Women set up hospital based “One-stop Crisis Management Centres” (OCMCs) which now exist in 21 Districts. Through trained staff these were designed to provide 24 hour support to victims of GBV, including psychosocial counselling, coordination with the police, legal services and support from community based organisations. The latter can include access to refuge facilities – at least in theory. But how successful is this in practice?

In an earlier post we told how ChoraChori had become involved in fighting a case of attempted rape on behalf of the victim. This case has now featured in a major report in this week’s Nepali Times. Excellent as that report has been it doesn’t tell the full story. For when the CEO of ChoraChori arrived at the scene he found the office of the OCMC in Dhading locked up. It was a public holiday so he took upon himself the task of finding a lawyer who could support the girl and ensure that the case was filed.

Most shocking of all was the conduct of the police themselves. The victim was seen by a female police officer but was then subject to repeated questioning from male officers. This was intimidating and demeaning for a 14 year old girl whose first language is Tamang rather than Nepali. She was asked questions that seemed to be more for the titillation of the police rather than anything else. Was the rape attempted on a bed or on the floor? Then she was examined by a male doctor who asked her questions in front of her alleged assailant. Small wonder that such a small percentage of female victims report incidents to the police or support services.

ChoraChori will continue to pursue this case. The victim will remain in our protection until the case comes to court and beyond. But, to our disgust, the alleged assailant has been released on bail which could allow him to attempt to influence the girl’s family towards dropping charges. We will be petitioning for him to be remanded in custody. And we have written to the international aid organisation of which his NGO was an implementing partner to let them know what has happened. They too need to be applying pressure to ensure that there is no attempt at cover-up and that the police are encouraged to be rigorous in their enquiries.

ChoraChori will also be appointing a new (female) Child Protection Officer who can be available at a moment’s notice for similar cases in the future. We will ask her to go to the scene of future assaults and liaise with the local authorities – including OCMCs, the police and District Child Welfare Committees – so that cases are filed. Moreover she will build links with government bodies and the police in Kathmandu to ensure that proper procedures are followed and that there is no impunity for perpetrators of GBV, including sexual assault.

Teaching crafts to girls from Tipling

Alongside supporting girls from Tipling, near the Tibet border (pictured left), ChoraChori has been teaching them crafts that lead to an income.

Our programme in support of the trafficking-prone girls from Tipling, Dhading District, began soon after the 2015 earthquakes. These destroyed just about all of the homes and schools in the area. Our short-term response was to bring a group of girls to Kathmandu where they could complete their higher secondary education at Kitini College while staying at our Kathmandu refuge. In parallel, last year we trained them in crafts, beginning with working in felt.

Then in October a Dutch business woman, Aagje Hoekstra, began a short voluntary consultancy with us, teaching the girls how to make eye-catching carrier bags out of old rice and lentil sacks. This has been a huge success with their products already finding a good market in Holland and Germany. See the film on the left.

As the first group of girls is due to complete their higher secondary education in May we are now thinking ahead to the next steps. Reena, who features in the film, and two other girls want to train to become community medical assistants so that they can return to Tipling and help the village and surrounding area. The training is expensive with the 18 month course costing £3,000 (including the girls’ keep). But that is the price of training leaders as well as CMAs. We are actively seeking sponsors who can help with defraying these costs.

Once again we are grateful to the Soroptimist International President’s Appeal 2015-17 for their funding thus far under their Educate to Lead programme. And of course to Aagje for her incredible personal contribution in time, skill and passion.



New vocational training

vocational training NepalA new year brings a new vocational training opportunity to our Kathmandu refuge, as five boys begin training in welding and working in metalwork.

In a post from last year we described how we’d found places for two boys on vocational training courses at a college in Kathmandu. The boys had joined the residential course full of enthusiasm. Yet just a month later one of the boys packed his things and left without saying a word to anyone.

We were bitterly disappointed at this but had to settle for reminding ourselves that we had done our very best for him. We had not only secured his freedom from India but given him the opportunity of a fresh start and a trade. Perhaps he yearned for the false freedom of the streets again in preference to the discipline of studying and conforming to a timetable. Thankfully the college refunded his course costs and we will be able to fund another boy through training later this year.

Nevertheless, we learned an important lesson: Before sending a teenager on an expensive external course we need to have evidence that he or she is likely to be up to the challenge. This has been one of our motives for setting up low-cost in house vocational training this month. A local trainer has introduced a group of five of our older boys to welding and metalwork. The coordinator, ChoraChori-Nepal staff member Lily Katuwal, tells us that they have shown a great deal of early enthusiasm and aptitude, making a ladder, table and bench. They have learned skills but Lily has seen how their communication skills and confidence have also developed.

There is a second motivation. We are planning to extend the in-house programme for boys to include basic plumbing and electrician training. And for both sexes we aim to introduce beginners and advanced tailoring courses. To that end we are in discussion with the Head Teacher at our local school, Kitini College, to establish how such training might benefit his pupils. Although Kitini has an excellent academic record many students drop out, unable to cope with their studies. We would like to target training at this group while still benefiting our own refuge kids.

Watch this space!

Dartmoor in a Day?

Do you think you could cross Dartmoor in a day? You can find out on the 8th September 2018 by joining ChoraChori’s Founder, Philip Holmes, as he takes on his major charity challenge for this year.

The Dartmoor in a Day event is fast becoming one of the UK’s top endurance challenges. You can read all about this gruelling, yet stunningly beautiful, route through this link. In summary, it’s a 50km journey from north to south across the best that Dartmoor has to offer, fully supported by Climb South West. You can run it or walk it – take the dog if you like.

Philip’s attempt to run the route will be more than a major fundraising goal. It will also be a personal one as he is trying to overcome an injury that grounded him at the end of last year. Read his story through his fundraising page. Time, distance and physical incapacity are no excuse for not supporting him – you can still leave a little sponsorship on his page to encourage him along!

We hope that we can field a great team, and especially from our supporters in the southwest. If you are travelling from further afield and would like some advice – we are very happy to provide some local knowledge on travel and accommodation.

Attempted rape in Tipling

ChoraChori-Nepal has intervened in a case of attempted rape in Tipling, Dhading District, ensuring that the police filed a case against the girl’s attacker. 

Since June 2016 ChoraChori has been supporting the education of girls from Tipling, which lies close to the Tibet border in Dhading District. This had been the scene of widespread devastation after the 2015 earthquakes. In spite of passing the challenging Grade 10 School Leaver’s Certificate (SLC) exams girls from this community could take their education no further. For them, the nearest school was three hours’ walk away. So we gave these motivated girls a chance to complete Grades 11 and 12 by bringing the to our Kathmandu refuge and enrolling them at the nearby excellent state school, Kitini College. At the end of last year we added a string to their bow by teaching them craft skills. As well as excelling at school the girls have been earning money by selling their craft products in Holland and Germany.

This has been particularly gratifying as the girls – who are mainly from the marginalised Tamang ethnic community – were very vulnerable even before the earthquakes. It is common practice for girls to be abducted by aspiring husbands (this can lead to rape) who then subsequently arrange a “marriage” with the girl’s family. One of the girls whom we brought down to Kathmandu had run away from this scenario three times. And of course, in that area there wasn’t much law enforcement, least of all after the earthquakes.

ChoraChori-Nepal CEO Bhaskar Karki meeting with Parbati’s family

On Sunday Bhaskar Karki, ChoraChori-Nepal CEO (pictured left) took a call from a Catholic priest in Tipling asking for ChoraChori-Nepal support. A 35 year old NGO worker had allegedly attempted to rape a partially sighted 14 year old Tamang girl, Parbati (name changed) who had been orphaned five years ago. She has 5 or 6 older siblings and been staying with her 22 year old brother. He is away most days working as a porter. The assailant – who had allegedly previously molested both Parbati and her older sister – allegedly seized Parbati during a visit to her home last Saturday after finding her alone. She told us how she fought him off with a kick to the crotch and hit him with a kettle before screaming for help. Local villagers caught the man and took him to Dhading police station. Parbati is a feisty girl and was determined to bring him to book by giving evidence against him. The situation at the police station became very tense with the assailant’s friends turning up in an attempt to intimidate the police and influence them so that a case would not be registered. They argued that what had happened was normal practice in Tipling area.

Bhaskar downed tools straight away and went with one of our field staff, Pratap Titung, to support Parbati. In spite of yesterday being a public holiday, they managed to find a lawyer who has been interviewing the girl and her family. Today the police filed the case against the man. It remains to be seen if he is remanded in custody or gets bail. Parbati is going to remain with her family for now but she is likely to join our programme when the next group of new students comes to the refuge.

For sure, whatever the outcome of the case, we have already helped send out a powerful message that young men in the mountains of Dhading are not above the law and rape is rape. A message that is being echoed around the world these days, including in Hollywood.


Rescue from Varanasi

Kamala (green) and her father being counselled by ChoraChori-Nepal refuge manager, Rita Mokhtan (centre).

Varanasi is famous throughout India as a focus for pilgrims and tourists alike. Indeed, with its 2,000 temples it is known as the spiritual capital of India. But the ChoraChori-Nepal field team has just been there for another reason; to bring a girl trafficking victim home.

Sixteen year old Kamala (name changed) arrived at our Kathmandu refuge at midnight three days ago. It was the end of a long journey that began at the start of last year. At that time she was living at home in Rautahat, a District in south-central Nepal. She and a number of girls had been in touch by mobile with a boy who was encouraging them to join him in Kathmandu. Only Kamala decided to run away and join him, enticed by his proposal of marriage.

But once in Kathmandu the boy locked her in a room while he went to work in a bag factory. Soon afterwards they travelled to Nawalparasi, another border District, where again the boy locked her up while he sold ice lollipops on the street. From there they crossed the border in Uttar Pradesh and ended up in Varanasi. At this point Kamala begged to return home but the boy beat her and left saying he would return with a bus ticket. He never came back. The local Child Welfare Committee found out about Kamala’s predicament and admitted her to a girls’ hostel. Then they contacted ChoraChori-Nepal asking for our help with repatriation.

We managed to trace Kamala’s family without too much difficulty and her father and uncle travelled with our staff member Pratap Titung to secure her release.  At our Kathmandu refuge we have conducted health checks and counselled the family. Initially Kamala’s parents were saying that they would not accept her back home. Instead she would stay with an uncle pending marriage as soon as possible. However they have now come around to accepting her back with them, recognising that the girl has been a victim rather than a delinquent. Our next step is to find the boy and bring him to justice as this has been a case of trafficking.

Sadly, this is a story we hear all to often, with vulnerable girls being tempted by false promises. ChoraChori-Nepal is the only Nepal-based organisation that goes into India to retrieve and reintegrate them, giving girls like Kamala a second chance.


Child reunification and rescue at Christmas

ChoraChori conducts child reunification and rescue before Christmas.

ChoraChori’s main aim is to reunite displaced children it rescues from India with their families. This follows a period of care, rehabilitation, education and training at its transit refuge in Kathmandu.

Parbati’s story

British volunteer teaching Nepali girls screen printingParbati is one of 33 children whom ChoraChori rescued from a very bad children’s shelter in Bihar, north India, in March. She’d gone originally to India with a boyfriend who had subsequently abandoned her. When she joined us she was very withdrawn and unwilling to speak about her past. However, during her time at the refuge she has blossomed. She has benefited from training provided by British volunteers Ben and Lara. Ben has taught her how to use the electric sewing machine while Lara has trained Parbati in screen printing techniques. See the adjacent films.

Nepal girl trainingMeantime ChoraChori has been tracing families and preparing the way for the reunification that took place on Saturday. Parbati is one of two girls from our refuge who were successfully returned to their families. You can see from the title picture that Parbati’s return to her village caused quite a stir. Especially when she proudly showed off a screen print shoulder bag that she had made. Parbati is welcome to return to the refuge next year to continue her training, if she so wishes.

ChoraChori finds more displaced Nepali children in India.

Nepal, children, ChoraChori, charity

After this reunification, the ChoraChori team moved across the border into the neighbouring Indian state of Bihar. There they visited a girls’ shelter and a boys’ shelter. Through interviews it is important to confirm nationalities as ChoraChori would be unable to offer reunification of Indian children to their families. And it can be difficult to establish nationality given that ethnic Indian people live in south Nepal and ethnic Nepalis live in northeast India.

Following the interviews ChoraChori determined that four little girls and eight boys can be returned to Nepal and to our transit refuge as their first port of call. Unfortunately this could not happen straight away due to the local Child Welfare Committee being involved in other business and given that a forthcoming Nepal election will restrict movements in the country. So ChoraChori will now have the added expense of a return visit later this week to bring the children home.

ChoraChori rescues young women too.

Rescue operations often deliver the unexpected and this trip has been no exception. For at the girls’ shelter the team found an 18 year old woman who is three months’ pregnant. She told Shailaja our staff how two women had drugged her in Nepal for her to awake in India and enter a forced marriage. Therefore this is a human trafficking case. The woman is keen to get justice and she knows all the people involved in her abduction and subsequent rape. ChoraChori will help her pursue the case.

A deaf Nepali woman and her child found at a girls’ shelter in Bihar

ChoraChori’s field team has brought this woman back to Nepal along with another woman that they found at the shelter. She is 23 years old and both deaf and dumb. She has with her a three year old boy who looks severely malnourished (pictured left). The woman told the team that she too had escaped from an abusive relationship. ChoraChori’s Nepal staff has very good experience in working with hearing impaired people and we should be able to help this woman (and indirectly her child) with some income generation training.

Needless to say these two adult cases will add significantly to our long term care and training costs. This expense is over and above the immediate transfer, and short/medium term care costs of the 12 children we will bring home later in the week. Please help us now with a donation by clicking on the logo below. Under the Big Give Christmas Challenge which runs until 12 noon on the 5th December all gifts can be doubled in value. Thank you for supporting our wonderful reunification and rescue staff in this way.




If you would like to find out more or join our mailing list please get in touch