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.

 

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