Sano Paila: protecting children in Nepal from trafficking

December 9, 2016
Beyond the Orphanage

Sano Paila (or ‘A Little Step’), is named for the idea that it just takes ‘a little step’ to serve one’s community and induce positive change. Sano Paila has taken many little steps to achieve incredibly positive outcomes for the most vulnerable children in the country.

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. We work with Sano Paila to support these children.

“Our children had been trafficked and were working in circuses in India”, says Sano Paila Founder and CEO, Kanchan Jha. “They had horrific conditions, were fed the same food as animals and forced to work 24/7. There were also children working in factories and forced prostitution. We brought them back to Nepal, and provided them with care and protection, while we tried to reunite them with their families. Sometimes it would take several years to find their families.

“We believe that children have the right to grow up within the communities and with their families.

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“In 2013, we realised that internal trafficking in Nepal was a new ‘trend’ that was really spiking. Children living in remote villages were ending up in Kathmandu, through brokers who had brought them there to place in orphanages.

“After doing some research, we realised that up to 90% of the children living in the orphanages did actually have families back home. The orphanages would change their names, identities and religion, and put them on websites – displayed like products. It turns out that this is a big organised business going on in Nepal.

we found that up to 90% of the children living in the orphanages did actually have families back home.

“After partnering with local police, we did some undercover work, and – after many months – we shut down these big orphanages. We rescued the children, despite big, powerful organisations working against us.”

Violence against children is preventable

While Sano Paila’s family reintegration program for rescued children is highly successful, there are some children whose families cannot be found.

This is where Beyond The Orphanage’s funding is making a difference.

Sano Paila cares for these children in a specialised child welfare house in Birgunj, south of Kathmandu, and staff use a holistic approach to caring for these children. One of whom has a disability and requires extra support.

Ending the institutionalisation of children is a core value of Sano Paila and Beyond The Orphanage.

“We’re preparing them to get degrees, so they can be independent”, says Kanchan. They go to school and are going well in their studies. Importantly, they’re aware of their rights. Our community are involved with the children a lot. They intermingle with the community and learn from them.”

“These children are struggling with the trauma of their past and it’s a big problem now for them”, says Kanchan. “Most of them are entering puberty and the trauma of what they went through exacerbates emotional issues, and even aggression. They need counselling, as soon as possible.”

In 2016, Beyond The Orphanage supporters provided the funds for the children to access individualised counselling. As a result of the funding we were able to help provide them, counselling has been ongoing for Sano Paila’s children throughout 2017.

Sano Paila staff and Geoff

Kanchan is overwhelmingly inspiring and positive. “We’ve achieved a lot in the past 10 years, and we’re going to keep making great changes for our community.”

“Sano Paila is leading the way in grassroots change in Nepal”, says Beyond The Orphanage CEO, Geoff Hucker. “We’re proud to be supporting their work with rescued children.”

Want to hear more about Sano Paila and the work that is being done in the fight against child trafficking in Nepal? Check out our video, filmed by our CEO live from Birgunj. If you’re as inspired by Sano Paila’s work as we are, consider making a donation here.

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