After a long time away from home, a ChoraChori field team has returned from Delhi to Kathmandu with seven rescued displaced Nepalese boys.
Success – at last – and after a very arduous trip to Delhi. Here is the anatomy of what happened to give you an idea of just how challenging a cross-border rescue operation can be.
- On the 17th November ChoraChori-Nepal Operational Director Shailaja CM and Deputy Director Roma Bhandaree left Kathmandu for the long road trip to Delhi. Their mission was to find as many displaced and trafficked Nepalese children as possible who were forgotten inside “children’s shelters” and bring them home.
- Upon arriving in Delhi they visited the Nepalese embassy to request an authorisation letter that would allow them to approach the Indian child welfare authorities to research stranded Nepalese children. The Embassy, as ever, was very cooperative and provided the letter.
- Armed with the letter, Shailaja and Roma visited ten Child Welfare Committees (CWC’s) over the ensuing three days – CWCs are responsible for child welfare within different parts of the city. Six of the Committees shared information straight away, four said that they would do so within a few days.
- Meantime, Shailaja and Roma began visiting the children’s shelters that they knew about and were authorised to visit. In total they found nine children who were keen to return home. Others were unwilling as they were runaways from broken homes and were not prepared to risk returning to step-parents (this is not a valid concern).
- Shailaja shared what she knew of the children’s addresses with the team in Kathmandu who successfully traced all of their families. Then ChoraChori-Nepal asked the Nepalese National Child Rights Council (NCRC) for permission to repatriate the children. The NCRC had to write to the Nepal Foreign Ministry to get it to instruct the Nepal Embassy in Delhi to issue a letter that would facilitate the repatriation. This latter process took five working days.
- Shailaja returned with the Embassy letter to the four CWC’s that were responsible for the nine children to obtain release paperwork, medical reports and escort orders. The CWCs were unable to release paperwork for two of the boys as their legal cases (one of bonded labour and one of parentage) were ongoing.
- On the 4th/5th December Shailaja and Roma left Delhi with seven boys to complete the 36-hour road trip to Kathmandu where the boys entered our new transit Boys’ Hostel opened in conjunction with Gandys Foundation. There they joined three other boys who had been rescued from just across the border at Gorakhpur a few days before. Reunifications can now start almost immediately, where appropriate. Clearly, some boys will require our future education and training support, but that’s fine.
This has been an exhausting trip and, on the face of it, in terms of “bangs for bucks” it has a low return in respect of numbers rescued. But we know that kids such as these boys live in dire conditions in these shelters and can remain there as de facto prisoners for years if no one comes looking for them. We will go to such lengths even for one lost child. No organisation does what we do with so much focus (understandably) on girls and for sure, no one does it better.
We need your help! Please donate now to our Big Give Christmas Appeal to allow our rescue work to continue using the button below. All donations before noon GMT on Tuesday 10th December will double in value. Shailaja, Roma and all of us will value your support and recognition.