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Announcement! A New Beginning for the Freed Indentured Daughters

One of the greatest strengths at NYF is our commitment to sustainable programming. Each of our programs is designed to end.

After all, if we are truly successful at empowering a community, we will eventually no longer be needed—and when that day comes, it’s a time for celebration.

Like proud parents watching children become self-sufficient, NYF’s goal is to ultimately step back and watch each child, each family, each program succeed on their own.

NYF is deeply honored and gratified to announce that that time has come for the Empowering Freed Kamlaris program. Effective in July 2020, programming designed specially to fight the practice of kamlari child bondage and to rescue, educate, and empower these young women will now operate under the control of the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF).

And who are the FKDF? They are the freed kamlari girls themselves—each of them eager and ready to give back to their own community by empowering their sisters and daughters to live dignified lives. The FKDF is a unique NGO with its own board, leadership, and programming goals. They’re currently focused on continuing education, early marriage prevention, and entrepreneurship. 

With support from NYF, the FKDF has established 47 locally-led specialized co-ops and savings groups with nearly 13,000 members. The co-ops include self-contained credit groups, community vegetable farms, shared livestock, micro-lending opportunities, and more – allowing members to start small profitable businesses, purchase farmland and livestock, develop skills, and live their dreams.

Elected leaders within the community receive special leadership training and support. Regular delegations are sent to government officials in Kathmandu to ensure the promises made to the freed girls are being kept, including the distribution of special ID cards entitling freed kamlari women to special benefits. 

Each member of the Freed Kamlari Development Forum has a unique story, but for each of these women, a significant early portion was bleak, painful, and raw. Most were made to believe, in their earliest, most vulnerable years, that they were hardly worth anything. In later years, they wrote impassioned songs and poems asking why they had been born into such a life. That they could fight for their freedom, and the freedom of girls like them, was a revelation.

Yet when given the chance, these young women—many of them still girls—took to activism with intense courage and zealous grace. They boarded buses bound for Kathmandu and took back girls who had been sold. They raised their voices in street performances, opening their hearts to strangers in order to help others understand the violence of the kamlari practice. They demonstrated in the streets, even when doing so put them at risk of serious injury. Under the pressure of their empowered message of freedom and self-worth, the Nepalese government at last took action against the practice, forbidding child slavery in 2013.

Thank you to every NYF donor for each thoughtful gift you have invested into these women and girls over the past 20 years. Your love—offered in the form of piglets, scholarships, start-up funds, vocational training, word-of-mouth, and so much more—have built opportunities and strength for a generation of young women. Dhanyabad! We are so grateful for your belief in these girls. The FKDF is proof that #LoveWorks.

Now, 20 years after Som and Olga learned of the kamlari practice in Western Nepal, the journey continues for these incredible women as they step forward with new independence.

NYF is so proud of the leaders they’ve become.

To read more about some of the incredible leaders within the Freed Kamlari movement, click here. For a brief look at the FKDF’s COVID response, click here.

At NYF, we’re excited to step forward as well, putting 20 years of expertise to good use helping empower women and girls through new and continuing programming! To continue supporting girls freed from kamlari bondage as they establish their own small businesses, please donate towards our Vocational Education and Career Counseling program. To support our ongoing COVID education response (which is helping prevent early marriage in rural communities), please consider a gift towards Access to Education. Donate here!

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