Child trafficking stories can break your heart. But they can also give you an insight into a terrible and enormous issue in Nepal. Today, we’d like to give you an insight into the story of one young man who was trafficked as a child. His name is Sahas.
Sahas lives in Nepal and is supported by Beyond the Orphanage, through our partner program called Sano Paila.
Geoff and Kate (our CEO and Board Director) recently travelled to Nepal and checked in with Sano Paila.
To give us a first-hand look into what the program is about, they filmed a live video session directly from Birgunj. Here’s a quick recap of the video, and more on Sahas’ story.
The fight against child trafficking
‘Over 12,000 children are trafficked internally and externally in Nepal every year’, begins Geoff, CEO of Beyond the Orphanage.
Our parter program, Sano Paila, is based in Birgunj, Nepal. Not only does Sano Paila work with the government to rescue children who have been trafficked – their main aim is to locate families and help reintegrate children back into their communities.
Geoff and Kate have set up a live video streaming session outside… in a field! They’ve just exited what they refer to as the ‘jungle jungle’ in Birgunj. It’s been a long day road-tripping with the children, and they apologise a few times for the in-and-out Internet connection.
Twelve-year old Abhas joins the session for a moment. He tells us they spent the day eating and fishing. It’s difficult to imagine that he was led into the hands of traffickers at just four-years old.
The Sano Paila program
Originally founded to tackle grassroots youth issues, Sano Paila has grown to work in a range of areas, including with the rescued victims of child trafficking.
Ideally, children are reintegrated with their families or communities. However, some children are not immediately able to be reintegrated back home.
Asha is one of these children. She was unable to return home because her extended family and community no longer wanted her.
For 8-year old Sanu and 6-year old Binu, it is because they are too young to remember where they came from.
These children live together with a ‘house mother’ while we search for their parents, their extended family, or potential foster carers in their community.
Our ultimate aim is to reunite children with their communities, and it’s a constant search to find where they came from – or to find other alternative care options.
However, while they remain in Sano Paila and Beyond the Orphanage’s care, we do everything we can to ensure they are happy and healthy.
‘The children here are very loved’, says Kate. ‘They really love each other like a little family’.
Child trafficking stories: Sahas
Sahas was unable to be reintegrated to his community because his parents had passed away. He did not have an extended family or potential foster carers to turn to.
When Sahas had nowhere else to turn to, he was taken to Kathmandu by an older man in his village. He was brought to the city to an institution for children.
The adult who’d brought him there believed that he was bringing Sahas to a better life, where he would even be provided with an education. Sahas was left at the orphanage, along with a handful of other children from his village.
Shutting it down
However, as we now know, the children were not provided with an education – in fact, they experienced serious abuse. Some of the children became part of the ‘orphan business’. Other children were sent into forced labour at factories or circuses, and others were sold into sex trafficking.
Child welfare organisations, including the National Human Rights Commission, jointly rescued the children from this ‘orphanage’ in 2014. Of the many children who were rescued from these horrific circumstances, just a handful of children were unable to be reintegrated with their families. Sahas is one of these children.
With the support of Sano Paila and Beyond the Orphanage, things are looking up for Sahas.
He receives regular individualised counselling which he is responding well to. He goes to school and receives private tutoring, and he also attends taekwondo classes at a local community centre with other children. Best of all – we have been able to locate Sahas’ sister, and plans are in place for them to live together.
As Kate mentions in the video, Sahas feels like he has many mothers and fathers, and many brothers and sisters at his home in Birgunj.
When asked what he’d like to be when he grows up, Sahas replies, ‘I have an ambition of being a social worker’.
I don’t think any child should ever have to see or endure the things that these children have been through.
‘I don’t think any child’, says our CEO Geoff, ‘should ever have to endure the things that these children have been through. When I hear their stories, I cry silent tears for them.’
Watch the video
As part of our ten-year anniversary celebrations, Geoff and Kate filmed videos live from the programs themselves. Here’s the video, below!
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