Next Generation Nepal is an organisation that reconnects trafficked children with their families in Nepal. I’ve been following their work for several years, particularly in relation to their campaigning against orphanage tourism in Nepal and elsewhere. In this recent post they set out the circumstances for how a family could lose a child to an orphanage through trafficking and how international volunteers fund this. You can read the original post on their website.
How it Begins
Imagine you are living in a place so poor and remote that your family survives on $100 a year. The closest school is a 5 hour walk and the teachers rarely show up anyway. A trusted member of your community, neighbour or family relative approaches you with the idea that he can help your child and your family have a better and easier future life.
He mentions that he has connections and is willing to take your child to the big city for an education. Though you have never been far from your village, you have heard a lot about Kathmandu and are sure that a proper school there will lead to a better life for your child and your whole family. You have never dreamed that this opportunity could happen for your child. You are promised he will attend a good school, be well cared for and receive a great education. And of course, he will visit on the most important holidays and you can talk to him on the phone often. Perhaps you will even visit him in the capitol city someday!
You pay the respected man or family friend the money for tuition and housing after selling your livestock, but you know this is a worthy investment in your child’s future and for the family. After a tearful “goodbye” your child heads down the path, he looks back for a final wave to you and his siblings with everyone believing this path will ultimately lead to Kathmandu and a brilliant education. You are sad but proud and hopeful.
Weeks and then months go by with no word from your child. You visit your neighbor to ask how your boy is, but he has also not returned from Kathmandu, and the number he gave you to call is now not working. As the Dashain holiday approaches you wait to hear from your child. Everyone comes home for Dashain! But again, there is only silence.
Months turn in to years and still there is no word. You wonder what could have happened to your child? Why is their no word from the neighbor? You have no idea that your child has been trafficked to a “fake orphanage”. You don’t even know that “fake” orphanages exist. In time you give up hope that he will return home.
Sadly, he is not in a fancy school in Kathmandu. Any mention of his family gets him severely punished. Volunteers from the West pay big dollars to play games with him, which helps him to forget his loneliness, but they come and go quickly.
He has been turned into a commodity to attract foreign money. He will be used until he is too old to be cute and then pushed onto the streets – or worse. He may have been too young to even remember where he is from or how to speak his local language.
You may never hear from him again, and you will never know the reason why he didn’t come home.
At Next Generation Nepal we work to prevent any parent or child from being tricked into participating in this vicious cycle of orphanage trafficking.
We ask for your help in accomplishing this massive task.