ChoraChori rescues trafficked and displaced Nepali children from India. However the challenge is far from over after repatriation. Ultimately we aim to reintegrate children with families and communities. Our Kathmandu children’s refuge plays a central role in that process.
A legacy of violence
Many of the Nepali children whom we rescue from India are runaways from domestic violence. This is often meted out by step parents. They join the flow of kids, mainly boys, who head across the open border with India in search of a better life. Maybe also of a bit of adventure. This migration increased after the Nepal earthquakes of 2015.
But for most children the violence is far from over. Some returnees told us how they found menial work but their employers beat them. So they ran away a second time. Other children have ended up on the streets. Here they are subject to violence from older kids or from the police. Eventually the police or NGOs pick up Nepal’s lost children and place them in Indian children’s homes were physical abuse is endemic. Of course those children, mainly girls, who are trafficked into India are subject to a different level of violence altogether. This includes captivity, forced labour and sexual abuse.
So the bottom line is that most returnees will come back to Nepal bearing mental scars from their time in India, up to and including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We need to address these mental health issues as well as the physical ones such as malnourishment and conditions such as scabies. The refuge offers a place of safety where children can be themselves and recover. We give them freedom to express themselves through music, sport, play and art. We manage those kids with the most serious trauma through our adjacent child trauma management centre.
Childcare at the refuge
Our refuge is at Godawari in Lalitpur District, on the outskirts of the Kathmandu connurbation. It has a 30 bed capacity and provides for all the children’s basic needs. They attend the nearby excellent state secondary school, Kitini, in Thaukel. Out of school hours they have plenty of time for sport such as Taekwondo, football and cricket and the kids love celebrating religious festivals, birthdays and going on picnics in the local hills. If you were to see the children at work and play you’d never guess as to their backgrounds. Indeed, their resilience is both impressive and touching.
Getting down to the detail of costs, we rent the refuge at a very reasonable price from Kitini school on a long lease. In addition to this expenditure we have to pay for utilities and the refuge care staff who look after the children on a daily basis. Then there’s food, clothes, school fees, medical costs and other outlay as shown in the budget below. In 2017 we launched a new child sponsorship scheme to help with this expenditure and ensure sustainability of this vital childcare centre. Please help us if you can by sponsoring one of our kids!
Behind the scenes the ChoraChori field staff work hard to identify the children’s families as the first stage in the reunification activity. This is sometimes difficult as these Nepali children may have left home when they were very young. Therefore they can only offer scant information about their village and family background.
It is most important for us to ensure that we are not returning children to an unstable family situation that has been blighted by extreme poverty. Also, if the children are runaways from domestic abuse we cannot return them to that situation. Most of the time reunification works very well and families welcome children back with open arms, often believing them to have been long dead. For example, see Prakash’s story as published in the Nepali Times.
Where reunification isn’t possible – for whatever reason – our team works hard to find alternative long term care arrangements, along with higher education and training opportunities. In many ways, this is the greatest challenge of all.
One refuge boy’s story
Please click on the image on the left to see Akshyar’s story. We make no apology for telling his story so publically. We are trying desperately to trace his family and maybe through this website someone might recognise him.
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