A word from Bobbie Richards of TheoEco…
Human trafficking is an issue that most are aware of but have no idea how to assist. This was me up until quite recently, when my father and I decided we’d like to produce a documentary about the epidemic in Nepal and met Devi Nepali and her husband Kishan through the Anglican Church in Kathmandu. She told us about her past management experience in businesses that she very much wants to revive to employ human trafficking victims. Hearing about these girls, even younger than I at the age of 17, I was moved to assist Devi in this endeavor as marketer, photographer and coordinator of our online store that can distribute across the world.
This store is Garden of Nepal, an Etsy shop in which all of the products are created by human trafficking victims who are trained and employed by Devi and Kishan. Rescued largely from Kolkata, India after being taken from their villages in Nepal as young girls, this employment serves as a means for them to become independent women that can return home and lead good, stable lives.
As of right now, the shop is selling handmade jewelry with plans to introduce other products in the future. The money from the sales of this jewelry goes towards the living wages of the girls as well as our efforts to rescue and employ others.
A word from Devi Nepali...
Nepal is known all over the world for its natural beauty. Even though it is very rich in natural resources, Nepal’s financial situation is poor due to the ongoing instability of the country and lack of good governance. Our country is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world--out of 186 countries our country is 156thas measured by GDP per capita according to the World Bank in 2015.
In the beautiful mountains of the Himalayas, however, live some of the most simple and beautiful folks of Nepal. With the limited resources available in rural villages, many villagers are trapped in poverty. With no proper birth control, most families have more children than they can feed.In a male-dominated society, girls are considered liabilities because when they get married, parents have to prepare a handsome dowry for them. In a country whose economy is almost nonexistent, an extra mouth to feed becomes a heavy burden to the family. So, many parents are willing to get rid of their girls by marrying them off at a young age to almost any man. Thus, many Nepalese girls fall into the clutches of greedy middlemen who later sell them to brothels in India that use them as sex-slaves.
Many of the girls are barely nine or ten years old. 200,000 to over 250,000 Nepalese women and girls are already in Indian brothels. The girls are sold by poor parents, tricked into fraudulent marriages, or promised employmentin towns only to find themselves in India's brothels. They're locked up for days, starved, beaten, and burned with cigarettes until they learn how to service up to 25 clients a day. Some girls go through 'training' before being initiated into prostitution, which can include constant exposure to pornographic films, tutorials in how to 'please' customers, and repeated rapes.
Trafficking in women and girls is easy along the 1,740 mile-long open border between India and Nepal. Trafficking Nepalese women and girls is less risky than smuggling even narcotics into India. Traffickers ferry large groups of girls at a time without the hassle of paperwork or threats of police checks. The procurer-pimp-police network makes the process even smoother. Bought for as little as 1,000 Nepalese rupees, or just a bit more than nine US dollars, girls have been known to fetch up to Rs 30,000 ($282) in later transactions. Police are paid by brothel owners to ignore the situation. Girls may not leave the brothels until they have repaid their debt, at which time they are sick with HIV and/or tuberculosis, and often have children of their own.
The areas used by traffickers to procure women and girls are the isolated districts of Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot, Makwanpur, Dhading and Kavrepalanchowk, Nepal where the population is largely illiterate.
Even when they are allowed to be released, most of them cannot return back to their homes in Nepal as it is considered a real disgrace and embarrassment to have daughters who have become prostitutes. Therefore, many remain in India and continue to work in the red light district. Some who are willing to leave the trade find it impossible to get a job.
Here is the story of Devi and Kishan’s ministry and how TheoEco is helping.
We were in Kolkata, India about five years, working among Nepalese trafficked women. We came back to Nepal in July 2016 to:
Many girls are rescued from Kolkata brothels and sent back to Nepal. There are five girls we have known for two years from Kolkata. Among them two girls are currently working with us as part of the jewelry making. Once the sale of our products becomes sustainable we aim to hire the other three girls in coming days.
How TheoEco is helping our ministry.
TheoEco has been a massive blessing to us. Steve and Bobbie are helping us sell our products in the United States and across the world, opening the online Etsy shop “Garden of Nepal” to bring prosperity to the human trafficking victims via the promotion of our work.
Not only this, but in the coming days TheoEco is going to help us raise funds for the expenses required for the awareness programs and for a children’s home for at-risk Tamang girls, which we are aiming to start as soon as possible. TheoEco is also helping fundraise for the setup of a handmade soap factory which will require more than $20,000. With the help of TheoEco we will be able to provide more job opportunities to the rescued girls. We aim to create an environment for these girls to work freely without hiding their own identity, meanwhile receiving a living wage. We thank TheoEco very much for joining their hands with us and for giving hope to these oppressed girls.
You can check out the shop at www.etsy.com/shop/GardenofNepal. We hope you enjoy.
Devi Nepali, Bobbie Richards and all at TheoEco Institute