A new partner organisation for ChoraChori

ChoraChori is very pleased to announce that we have joined hands with a second Nepalese NGO partner, the Mithila Wildlife Trust.

In a blog post last December, we stated our intention to extend our work in support of the victims of child rape into Dhanusha, south Nepal. That remains our goal however, following a visit to the District earlier this month, we reached the conclusion that we would have to approach the challenge in a more measured way that we had envisaged. The Musahar and Dom communities are very closed castes and cautious of outsiders, including Nepali people. This is hardly surprising, considering some of the injustices that have been visited upon them in the past. First, we have to build confidence by making a tangible difference to the people and specifically to the well-being of the women and children.

On our visit we were joined by Maya Rai of the Kathmandu-based Nepal Knotcraft Centre who introduced us to women from the villages and who demonstrated their existing basket-weaving techniques. Maya’s company is keen that we train these talented women in modern techniques and contemporary designs, using natural fibres that are available locally. This will give excellent employment possibilities and community upliftment

Our other host was Dev Narayan Mandal who is a keen conservationist and the Founder of the Mithila Wildlife Trust. Dev is a local man who spent nine years in India before resolving to return to his home area and help the community which relies on the nearby forest for so much of its welfare. Sadly, that forest has been severely damaged by illegal logging but, through his Trust, this can be restored. Dev also explained the need for education to break the village poverty that has been such a central factor in child marriage. The (illegal) dowry system is being sustained in large part because the younger the girl at the time of marriage, the lower the dowry payment. Although the legal age for marriage in Nepal is 20, girls from this community were marrying between the ages of 12 and 16. Education offers the only way out.

In response we have agreed to fund the construction of a study facility that will support over 200 children outside of school hours, improving school retention rates. This will cost £9,500 and that sum has been kindly gifted by major donors in the UK. We have also provided £1,600 towards setting up a low-cost training space for the women, this through our “Empowering Girls in Nepal” collaboration with SIGBI. Both facilities should be constructed within three months and in good time before this year’s monsoon season.

This is just the first step in what is sure to be a productive and rewarding partnership!

Empowering Liza

ChoraChori has empowered 17 year old Liza from Dhanusha District, southeast Nepal, into taking action against those who gang-raped her.

When Liza (name changed) first came to ChoraChori’s Children’s Refuge and Rehabilitation Centre (CRRC) in June this year she was profoundly traumatised, withdrawn and suffering from panic attacks. For she had just been the victim of gang rape after having been abducted by four boys from a nearby village. During her ordeal she was held captive at the home of one of the culprits and then subsequently across the border at Muzaffarpur in Bihar, north India. During those 53 days she was beaten and raped every day before she managed to escape and return to Nepal. Her family reported the rape to the local police but they took no action. The danger wasn’t over for Liza and her family as one of the assailants came from a prominent local family and she was under threat to keep quiet.

At this point, ChoraChori found out about the case and immediately stepped in to support her. After we brought her to the safety of CCRC, it emerged that she also had a serious heart condition and was in very poor shape physically. Under our care she has received good food and medical care, psychosocial counselling in both individual and group sessions (title picture) and commenced vocational training on a basic tailoring course.

This has been transformative and our staff now report that she has a glow to her face and a ready smile.  She gained sufficient physical strength and confidence to be able to return to the court hearing in Janakpur, south Nepal, to give evidence. She was also able, for the first time, to name two of the other culprits as only one of them had been charged and arrested. The case is ongoing and complex, but ChoraChori’s legal team is fully behind her and the family in our bid to get the rapists the long jail sentences they deserve.

One of our goals for next year is to set up a regional girls’ shelter, office and field team in Dhanusha District. Sexual assault and rape is endemic in this part of Nepal and if we are to make the impact that we intend in the coming time we need to be closer to the point of need. Currently, our legal team and support services are 10-12 hours’ drive away and, clearly, that is highly unsatisfactory. You can help us with raising the seed money we need to set up this centre by donating using the button below. Our main Big Give appeal has just ended very successfully. But happily we managed to secure some late pledges that will still allow us to automatically double any gifts in the run up to Christmas – or noon on the 21st December to be precise. Many thanks!

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