The Indentured Daughters Program | Freeing Nepali Girls
A Few Things that Surprised Us
Our efforts have had some unexpected side effects and challenges. Because of the large number of children we brought back home to attend school, the small village schools in the area are in a state of collapse. Some classes have 150 students – far too many to fit into a classroom, so they listen at the door or the barred window, or the class is held outdoors in the searing heat of summer or the clammy cold of winter.
In order to meet this challenge we have built dozens of new classrooms in the area with concrete instead of tin roofs. (The outside temperature is often over 100° Fahrenheit, and the tin roof magnifies the heat.)
The hero of this project is Man Bahadur Chhetri, who oversees the program. He has an uncanny knack of winning the confidence of the communities in which he works, and as we experienced on many field visits, he is viewed with respect and affection by the locals. He lives in the area, simply. We owe the success of this project to his intelligence, deep knowledge of the community, and commitment to ending the practice of bonding children.
Another problem we did not anticipate was that some of the girls we brought home were 14 or 15 years old and had never been to school; many felt embarrassed to sit in a classroom with children in kindergarten. We have partially solved this problem by enrolling the new girls in bridging classes as soon as they enroll in our program so that when school starts later in the year, they have a leg up. Some of them begin regular school in the 5th grade!
For those who still find it difficult to enter school in a low grade, we conduct intensive literacy and numeracy classes for nine months and then they are free to join vocational training, if they prefer. We have an excellent program to teach many vocational skills to these girls, including sewing, driving a bus, and making furniture. Sewing has partcularly good potential for generating income because there is a ready-made market in the thousands of girls we have liberated who need school uniforms annually.
Read on to learn about the experiences of these young girls in their own words.