Child trauma can present itself almost immediately in the Nepali kids we rescue from India. For example, ChoraChori-Nepal refuge staff member Sujit Thapa remembers all too well how Milan (name changed) was on his first day after we repatriated him from India. Sujit says “He was a loner who looked very scared and traumatised, speaking to no one and not answering any questions. He was also very aggressive and attacked staff members several times. It was very difficult to manage him”.
A violent father
Milan became particularly aggressive if anyone asked him about his home or family. However after spending time in the healing environment of the refuge and receiving counselling sessions from our newly appointed psychosocial counsellor, Sailu Rajbhandari, he has begun to open up about his past. We found out why he has scars on his head and legs. For Milan’s father would be drunk every day and used to beat his mother, siblings and himself, on occasions using fire tongs. One day his mother couldn’t take this anymore and fled with Milan’s younger sister and brother. Her whereabouts are unknown. This left six year old Milan to endure another four years of violence before he too ran away, in his case across the border into the abyss of India.
Sujit continues: “Milan has changed a lot since his arrival at the refuge. Now I think he has started to accept the facts about his father and find a place for it. He still isn’t sharing his address though, perhaps out of fear of being returned there.” As you can see from the picture above his interactions with the other children are improving too.
Milan is one of the 110 Nepalese children whom ChoraChori-Nepal has rescued from India. Most have experienced some degree of child trauma, be it physical, psychological or sexual. If, like Milan, this has arisen at home and caused them to run away then of course we can’t return them to that situation. Instead we need to continue to care for them at our refuge, including providing education and training, until they are able to look after themselves. Our Child Trauma Management Centre, which is on the same site as the refuge, is central to that care.
In August we were delighted to appoint Sailu as the Clinical Director at the Centre. As a former lecturer at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) in Kathmandu she is very well qualified to take up the challenge of managing child trauma cases. She has been getting to know the refuge children and conducting individual and group assessments. Also she has been training the care staff in how to deal with behavioural problems. After she has settled in we look forward to applying the healing power of art to complement her therapy.
Hope for the future
As it happens, Milan enjoys art and dancing. He has been inspired by two of the other boys starting a vocational training course as motorbike mechanics and hopes to follow in their footsteps. However these courses are quite expensive and we are keen to identify supporters who might be able to offer short term training sponsorships. Supporters whose investment can change a teenager’s life for good. If you can help, please drop me a line.