A couple of years ago I began blogging about JOURNEYS of Eternal Threads in the past, but today I’m writing as we begin a new Journey. A team of volunteers and staff are leaving today to visit the anti-trafficking project in Nepal that Eternal Threads has partnered with for over 10 years. For those of us leaving Omaha, Nebraska where it is 14 degrees, we are looking forward to being in the land of the Himalayas where it will be in the 60’s. Go figure!!
My first journey to Nepal was in 2008. After having met the Nepalese founder of this anti-trafficking organization in the U.S., I wanted to visit their program to see the work they were doing, and educate myself further on trafficking issues around the world. As I had worked in southern India for several years, I was beginning to realize more and more what a global scourge it is.
On my first visit, it was just our Nepalese partner and his wife. Before leaving Kathmandu to see the project, we all made Mo Mo’s together. A wonderful Nepalese version of Chinese dumplings. I quickly became addicted to those as well as tandoori chicken, naan and spinach paneer. There were strikes going on in Nepal, so we traveled by car with extra gasoline cans in the back so we could be sure and get fuel. His sweet wife had to smell the fumes in the back seat, but we made it and the trip was quite long so I was able to learn so much about how they began their work and what they hoped to do in the future.
They only had one border station at that time where the girls are rescued from traffickers. Ten years later, they have twelve!!! The girls who are taken across this open border between Nepal and India are on a perilous journey that they aren’t aware of when they first agree to go with someone who has promised to get them a job or even marriage. The first step on this journey is how poverty and a highly patriarchal society leads villages girls to being vulnerable to traffickers. The second step is the elaborate scheme by the traffickers to get them out of the country to be sold around the world. This is easier due to the open border and explains the need for border stations to monitor the flow of people crossing the border.
Unfortunately, the girls quickly realize how perilous their journey is because most often they are abused, drugged and raped before reaching the border in order to create fear in them. This is often why the girls ask to be rescued by the border station staff who are interviewing them because they realize they are in trouble. The brave young women who “man” these border stations are often rescued girls themselves who can share their stories to help the girls realize the peril they are in if they cross the border. Watch this short video – Rescuing Nepalese Girls to learn more.
On this trip, we will be visiting a border station, safe houses, training centers and small businesses that the rescued girls have been able to start when they return to their home communities. I will definitely try and blog again to give you updates on that. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve been there so I am anxious to see the staff and girls and see how much the project has progressed. I will also share some of the girls stories.
Here’s what they’ve accomplished just in 2019:
- 20,622 women and girls were interviewed at 10 border stations to determine if that might be being trafficked.
- 1130 trafficking victims were rescued and became survivors at the border stations and from Hotel brothels in New Delhi, India. Most of these were able to be repatriated to their families when they were rescued.
- 95 survivors received medical care, trauma counseling in the safe houses, and skills training in the training center.
- These survivors have formed 105 community mobilization groups with 5055 members to help stop human trafficking through awareness programs, entrepreneurship and savings/microlending groups.
- Over 200 vulnerable village girls received scholarships to receive an education which will protect them from the lure of human traffickers.