Update: Flood Relief Campaign
Thanks to our caring community of donors, our Flood Relief Campaign raised over $32,000 in just one week to help families who lost everything in the devastating floods in August.
NYF staff and volunteers distributed survival kits packed with tents, sleeping mats, blankets, cooking pots, and utensils to aid 1,200 families in the Bardiya, Dang and Banke districts of western Nepal. The first organization on the scene to offer help, NYF also provided funds for families to begin rebuilding their houses.
Rebuilding schools that were hit by floods
The flooding in western Nepal threw the education system into disarray. Many schools were destroyed, and people whose houses were ruined are using the remaining schools as temporary shelters.
NYF is providing funding to help children buy new books and supplies lost in the flood, and we are rebuilding six classrooms in three schools in the affected area.
NYF offers families a lifeboat
Suma Tharu’s family was grateful to receive NYF’s help after the flood. Suma, who was featured in the film Girl Rising, was left homeless by the flooding and is currently staying at a temporary shed with her mother. Her father and 16 other family members have sought shelter in a nearby school building. Suma also lost all her books and notes from college.
After the flood, we were able to provide Suma with blankets, mattresses and utensils, as well as some rice, lentils and oil. She also received funds to buy books, a uniform for college, and money to rebuild her house.
Raj Kumari Tharu and 20 of her family members fled their home in the middle of the night and lost everything: their house, belongings, food and grains.
The family went to the neighboring village and sought shelter with relatives for a few days. Like many of the villagers affected by the flood, they are now struggling to build a more permanent shelter of their own.
NYF provided Raj Kumari with supplies of food, blankets, mattresses and utensils. She also received money to replace the textbooks and a school dress that she had lost in the flood.
Tirthi Tharu and her family of seven also lost their house and belongings, and are now taking refuge with relatives in a neighboring village. Tirthi is studying in grade 7 and will return to school when life is more settled. NYF provided the family with emergency supplies and funds to begin rebuilding their house and their lives.
Many thanks to our donors around the world for helping Suma, Raj Kumari and Tirthi rebuild their lives.
Read an earlier article about our Flood Relief Campaign.
NYF working to stop early marriage
Using street theater, leaflets, posters, counseling sessions and house visits, NYF staff and counselors are working hard to encourage young women in western Nepal to stay in school and resist family pressure to marry early.
Last year, counselors reached nearly 2,500 teachers, parents, community members and girls who were formerly indentured servants through orientation sessions, street drama, house visits and leafleting public bulletin boards. Staff registered several cases of early marriage with the local police.
The project is part of NYF’s Empowering Freed Kamlaris program which helps former Kamlari girls become healthy, happy and independent young women. NYF has rescued more than 12,000 girls since launching our campaign against the Kamlari system in 2000.
Changing attitudes and ending the practice
While marriage before the age of 18 is illegal, police and community members have tended to ignore the issue. Families often view their daughters as an economic burden and pressure them to marry, and this has been a particular problem for the girls we have rescued from Kamlari slavery.
NYF hopes to end the practice of early marriage by making girls, boys and their families aware of the negative health and economic consequences of dropping out of school and marrying young.
We have also formed 21 support groups for boys, with a total of 225 members. We’re happy to report that boys have enthusiastically embraced the cause and are sharing information with their families and communities.
Finding a way forward
NYF helped sixteen-year-old Santoshi, a former Kamlari servant, resist family pressure to get married. Suffering from severe depression, Santoshi’s friends encouraged her to join a NYF counseling support group where she learned to talk about her problems and develop strategies to deal with them. Counselors also visited her family and talked about how early marriage could negatively affect Santoshi’s life.
It’s working. Santoshi is now in NYF’s Vocational Education and Career Counseling program, where she is learning job skills and working hard to build a bright future for herself.
(Santoshi gave us permission to use her name and photo for this report.)
Read about our Empowering Freed Kamlari Program.
Watch the ABC7 News video about NYF’s work to free girls from slavery.
Read about NYF’s Vocational Education and Career Counseling.