Anjali’s second career

Through its advanced vocational training programme, ChoraChori offers second career opportunities.

In my memoir, Gates of Bronze, I described how – bizarrely – we set up a contemporary circus group for young people whom my then charity had rescued from slavery inside Indian circuses. Many children had been lured into this miserable existence by traffickers who promised them the bright lights and stardom. After we rescued these children (700 of them in the period 2004 to 2011) we had to provide education and training that would allow them to be reintegrated into Nepalese society. It’s a bit of a long story, but in 2011/2012 we ended up offering to re-train returnees (who were interested) in contemporary circus skills, adapting the more traditional skills that they had learned the hard way. And so was born Circus Kathmandu.

The initiative (to my great surprise) proved to be hugely popular, as through Circus Kathmandu, these young people were able to realise the dreams that had been mis-sold to them. They found those bright lights through tours to Australia, Dubai, Norway and the UK. The performers ended up also earning a great deal of money through public and private shows. However, with time and having lived the dream, some moved on, getting married and wishing to settle down. One such performer was Anjali, back row, third left in the title picture. She is now a young mum living near our Children’s Refuge and Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu, which has made it easy for her to attend the in-house vocational training that we offer on the site. Anjali has completed the six months basic tailoring course and this week, after a further six months training, she received her advanced tailoring certificate.

In yesterday’s post, I described how Josephina returned to Jhapa District after her basic tailoring course. She is happy with that, but, like Anjali, she and other basic course graduates have the possibility to go into higher training. This takes them to a standard where they are very employable in the big cities, earning a great income as they make quality clothes, including for the international market.

New Developments in Chora Chori

Chora Chori serves to rescue children from trafficking and abusive situations, reintegrate back into society and provide rehabilitation. The extent of our work is beyond just simple tasks, and wouldn’t be possible without our ever committed team from Chora Chori Nepal (CCN). This month, CCN welcomed two team members into Chora Chori for its capacity enhancement.

Ms. Roma Bhandaree

“I am Roma Bhandaree, appointed as Deputy Director for Chora Chori Nepal. I am a master’s graduate in Social work from Tribhuwan University, and have been working in the child protection sector of Nepal for the past 6 years. Here at CCN, I am responsible for the holistic management, as well as coordinate with the Executive Director to oversee the operations, government liaison and administration in the organization.

Working at CCN for this last month has given me more exposure to how a work must be done with passion and dedication in a friendly environment, and taught me to work in coordination with other colleagues as well. Being a social worker, I always longed to work for humanity, which is exactly what our organization has been working for, so I am excited to work here with regards to my personal development field as well.”

Ms. Rojika Maharjan

“This is Rojika Maharjan, and I am the Development and Communications officer for Chora Chori. I recently graduated with my Master’s in Social Work, with specialization in children and family studies under the Erasmus program in Europe. I oversee the overall communications activity including child-centred communication strategic planning, website and blog management, social media management, assist in fundraising and reporting.

I am enlivened in my new role at CCN, where I have found the hopeful light of passion, love and dedication to help the children living in adverse conditions in Nepal. I really look forward to contribute in the child protection of Nepal, through my work in the communications. My role also gives me the opportunity to be creative and innovative as much as possible, and I love it.”

Chora Chori Nepal is actively developing major projects this year, and with that, it shall be reinforcing an equally dedicated team. It also seeks to establish a regional office in near future, to decentralize the work systematically.

Keep following our blog for more updates.






ChoraChori update report, January – June 2019: “On fire”

ChoraChori can reflect upon a very, very positive first half of 2019 with remarkable progress in both the UK and Nepal.

Here is our update report that provides an excellent overview of our work and achievements at home and in Nepal. We have made a lasting difference to the lives of children and young people – like the graduates (pictured above) from our basic tailoring vocational training course. Huge thanks to our supporters without whom none of this would be possible!

Please note that we are now inviting pledges towards the Big Give Christmas appeal (sorry to mention Christmas in July – needs must). Before 31st August we need to find £25,000 in pledges from individuals, corporates and Trusts/Foundations that will provide a pot that can match online public donations during the appeal week that begins on the 3rd December. The minimum pledge is £100, with the pledge not payable until after the appeal ends on the 10th December. To make a pledge – and effectively double the impact of your donation – please visit this link.

Let’s ensure that this success continues!


Vocational training gives ChoraChori beneficiaries real prospects for the future

Finding a way ahead for ChoraChori’s kids in Nepal


Uday and Ramesh with ChoraChori staff member Sujit (centre) on their first day at a vocational training school in Nepal

Since August 2015 ChoraChori has rescued 105 trafficked and displaced Nepali children from India. We have reunited over 80% of these with their families. However some cannot go back to families as they don’t have stable and safe domestic circumstances. For these kids we have to offer a different pathway in life and vocational training is a valuable option.

Managing refuge children’s aspirations

For all returnees our initial approach is to reintroduce them to attending school. Some of the children have the academic ability but others don’t. It can be just too difficult after having been away from Nepal so long and understandably they feel disinclined to sit in class with pupils who might be much younger than them. Other children may just want to get into work as quickly as possible to earn an income for themselves and their families. After all that might be the reason they left Nepal in the first place.

Vocational training course requirements

The problem is that in Nepal the bar can be set very high in terms of the academic qualifications required for admission. Also, the cost of the courses would be preclusive for children who come from very poor families. Nevertheless we have found accessible courses at Sano Thimi Technical School in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Pictured above are refuge boys Uday and Ramesh this morning with ChoraChori’s Assistant Refuge Manager, Sujit Thapa (centre). Uday and Ramesh have joined a light vehicle service mechanic course and a motorcycle service course respectively. These residential six month courses cost £720 each. Put another way that’s £60 a month leading into a huge work opportunity.

Become a child sponsor

Uday and Ramesh are fortunate to have ChoraChori supporters as sponsors for their courses. There are six other adolescents, including one girl, who are awaiting the same kind of vocational training opportunity as Uday and Ramesh. If you (or a group of friends) could help us with a six month commitment we could make that donation go a very long way. Indeed, here’s a chance to make an investment that can turn around the life of a child through teaching them skills for life.

If you would like to become a sponsor then please drop me a line. Many thanks!



Son of The Thief

ChoraChori rescues former street kid with a story to tell

This is the story of Ramesh, a former street kid in both Nepal and India. ChoraChori rescued him in March this year after Ramesh completed a tough journey, both literally and metaphorically.


Gulmi District

Son of The Thief

Ramesh was born 17 years ago in Gulmi District, 350 km and 11 hours’ drive west of Kathmandu. As you can see from the adjacent picture, it’s a beautiful hilly area, well known within Nepal for coffee growing. But Ramesh’s upbringing was far from idyllic. For his father was a notorious thief who robbed many of his neighbours before eloping with another woman. Ramesh was so young at the time that he doesn’t even remember his father’s name. His mother, Sita, remarried but Ramesh’s life was no happier. His mother and stepfather argued constantly and in the eyes of the villagers Ramesh was stigmatised as “The Son of The Thief”. Eventually at age 10 Ramesh had had enough. He ran away from home and headed for Butwal, a dusty bustling major town that lay 100km to the south.

Life as a Kawadi


The streets of Butwal

In Butwal Ramesh became a street kid, working as a “Kawadi”. This is someone who collects and sells garbage – usually plastic bottles. He earned £1.50 per day but this wasn’t enough to get by on. So after three months he started working as a kind of agent for the local bus service, earning 30 pence commission for every passenger he procured. By day he stayed at the station, by night at a local night shelter for street children. This led him into smoking and abusing glue like the other kids. However he made friends with some of the station staff and three months later a bus driver gave him a lift to what Ramesh hoped would be the excitement of Kathmandu.

In Kathmandu he became a street kid again. During the day he was a Kawadi, at night he slept on the steps of a temple in Basantapur Durbar Square. He’d become vulnerable to bullying and older children stole his money. But his safety improved when he found a night shelter that was prepared to admit him. He spent the next five years in Kathmandu passing through two more children’s shelters. These helped him to reduce his smoking and glue-sniffing. He received some education and even training in Taekwondo. His confidence restored a little, his thoughts turned to his family.

Basantapur Durbar Square

Basantapur Durbar Square


When he was 15 Ramesh returned home for the major Hindu festival of Dashain. He looked forward to sharing his exciting stories of city life and “success” with his family. But, to his dismay, he discovered that his stepfather had also abandoned his mother. Depressed at her circumstances, Sita had descended into alcohol abuse, eking out a living by breaking stones to make gravel. She and her two children were living in abject poverty. Ramesh decided to leave home again and find the money his family needed.

He returned to Butwal where he worked first as a truck driver’s assistant and then as a bus conductor. After that he moved to Pokhara and eventually north into remote Mustang. Here his work was to load stones and boulders onto a trailer. He tells how one day the stones moved on their own as the first of two earthquakes struck Nepal in 2015. Soon afterwards Ramesh decided he would never find his fortune in Mustang and headed south for India.

India travels

India travels

Crossing the border at Bhairahawa, Ramesh’s first job was as a housekeeper and childminder to a doctor in Gorakhpur. With a smile he says that his tasks extended to ironing the doctor’s underwear. He quit two months later and his travels really began. First of all he spent a fruitless three days looking for work in Delhi, once again sleeping on the streets. Then he went to Mumbai where he found three months’ work on the busses. That didn’t pay enough so he crossed India to Chennai.

Two days later he was in Bangalore where his job-hunting came to an abrupt end. The Indian police are on the look-out for stray children at railway stations and they picked Ramesh up as soon as he stepped off the train. They took him to a children’s shelter in Bangalore where he spent two months before the authorities transferred him to a dreadful home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Six weeks later ChoraChori rescued him in its major child rescue operation last March.

Future plans

At the ChoraChori refuge in Kathmandu Ramesh has been a gregarious lad who, thanks to his non-formal education, even speaks some English. He says now that he would like to learn a trade so that he can provide for his family properly. Specifically he wants to become a motorcycle mechanic – an option that would offer plenty of work in Nepal! This would require a six month course followed by a further six months of vocational training. A full year of support from ChoraChori comes to £1,250, including his living expenses.

If you feel you can help Ramesh to realise his dream of returning to his family with money in his pocket then please donate using the button below. The site accepts donations in any major currency. Many thanks!

donate to ChoraChori


Nepali child trafficking victim in Indian jail

jail_650x400_41454525512On their latest visit to India the ChoraChori rescue team has been investigating the case of a 16 year old boy from Bardiya, west Nepal, who has ended up in an Indian jail after being trafficked.

Gopal was taken by a fellow villager to Delhi with the promise of work and handed over to an Indian trafficker. This transfer between agents is common practice. The Indian agent put him to work in a shop that was selling alcohol illegally. Six months ago the police raided the shop and the owner fled, leaving Gopal to be arrested in his place.  Someone misinformed the police that the boy was 23 and on that basis he was charged and sent to prison in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Gopal managed to get word to his family in Nepal through a released former jail inmate who also happened to be a Nepali. The family contacted us and in parallel went to the Nepal embassy in Delhi. Although they have a birth certificate to prove that he is indeed sixteen nothing has happened to get him freed.

ChoraChori has now contacted the Child Welfare Committee in Noida and Childline Noida. The Noida Childline coordinator has since been to the jail and will visit the police station where the case was filed. At our request Childline will establish how this child has been charged as an adult and on what basis. While this is being sorted out we have asked that the boy be transferred to a Juvenile Justice Home with all haste.

We suspect that many children and young people who are trafficking victims could also be being held in Indian prisons and young offenders’ centres. Gopal was fortunate in that he was able to get a message to the outside that prompted our intervention.

Earthquakes, water shortages and now forest fires in Nepal

Forest fires at Godawari
Forest fires at Godawari

Forest fires at Godawari

Recently the prolonged dry spell and strong winds have resulted in major forest fires across Nepal. These have threatened rural communities and wildlife alike. See this report in the Kathmandu Post. Today these came very close to home as our refuge kids had to call off a football match mid-game as the flames in the forests of Godawari drew close. This is tragic as Godawari is so idyllic and a haven to a huge variety of wildlife.

Forest fires in Godawari

Forest fires in Godawari


Grand designs in Nepal

Architect's drawing of the future ChoraChori-Nepal's girls' refuge in Nepal

These are the drawings received this morning from volunteer architect Jonny Davies based upon a design by our colleagues at Good Earth Nepal in Kathmandu. We are hoping to start building this 40 bed facility for girl trafficking survivors from 1 June and will be fundraising in the meantime. We are well on the way to reaching our £75,000 fundraising requirement thanks to the remarkable efforts of our three cyclists who are two thirds of the way through their sponsored cycle ride from Shanghai to Kathmandu. Please support them through this link.

The future ChoraChori-Nepal girls' refuge

The future ChoraChori-Nepal girls’ refuge aerial view

Trafficking of Nepali boys into India

24863865-Tag-or-word-cloud-human-trafficking-awareness-day-related-in-shape-of-hand-or-palm-Stock-PhotoSince August we have been rescuing trafficked and displaced Nepali boys from India. This report in today’s Himalayan Times reminded us of the dangers and how important our work has been. We know Manahari well; it has been a trafficking hotspot for many years with a lot of girls being sent from there to become child circus performers (slaves) in India.

Sport at the ChoraChori Kathmandu refuge

Early morning Taekwondo training at the ChoraChori Kathmandu refuge

Martial arts are commonly taught in Nepal and children are often to be seen first thing in the morning training in judo, karate and Taekwondo in open spaces and in school grounds. The boys at the ChoraChori Kathmandu refuge are no exception and here they are looking splendid in their whites, suits kindly funded by our great friend Captain (retired) Indra Gurung (Dubai).

IMG_0738 IMG_0741


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