Traffickers swarm Nepal in aftermath of earthquake; our grassroots prevention campaign broadens

Photo: Nepali schoolgirls gathered for a training session led by our staff. They are taught how to spot and avoid the deceptions of traffickers.

In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, sex traffickers are exploiting the devastation to snatch thousands of women for brothels across Asia. The death toll from April’s disaster has reached 7,566, with hundreds of thousands left homeless, mainly in poor rural communities. Tragically, criminal gangs are taking advantage of people’s desperation by masquerading as relief workers in the chaos left by the earthquake. Thankfully, our native team is well suited to respond to this tragedy by broadening their already extensive trafficking awareness programs.

We organize frequent trafficking awareness counseling classes for girls ages 15-18 in the heavily-trafficked areas, and for women of all ages in other areas. This month we reached 88 girls and women through our training classes which are styled in a workshop and discussion format, and we also reached hundreds more at our border counseling station. All of the teachers and students are thankful for our trafficking awareness program which allows the girls to talk about guilt, fear, shame, anger, and their safety — they are encouraged to open up and learn from each other’s experiences. They are also taught to identify different problems and dangerous situations, and they are given the solutions.

They are taught to stay away from strangers, to know the difference between true love and flattery from a stranger, to stay away from the lure of promised money and employment, to not exchange phone numbers or other information on Facebook, to understand their own responsibility towards their family and community, how to develop self-dignity and respect, and to know the laws and punishments regarding human trafficking.

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In other news, the girls at our rehabilitation home are doing well in the aftermath of the earthquake — five girls recently completed their 6-month course, a great accomplishment. They are healthy and happy, learning to make a ‘Singaporean dress,’ which is popular among Nepalese women. They are also learning to make women’s purses and beaded necklaces, which will be sold online at the She Has Hope crafts shop, where all the profits go toward the girls’ rehabilitation.

Thanks to contributions from our faithful donors, we have now delivered over 13 tons of food such as rice, lentils, cooking oil, and salt to 18 villages affected by the earthquake. In addition to food, we’ve provided temporary shelter, mosquito netting, and bedding for several of the villages. For 13 of these villages, we were the first responders on the scene; some had still not seen any aid 3 weeks after the first earthquake.

We will continue to support these 18 villages and others with more food as needed. We also need to make repairs at our farmland, as the foundation and some supports of the goat house were damaged. A larger, long-term goal that has been created as a result of the earthquakes is buying new property outside the city to build our own earthquake-resistant facilities for our girls home, boys home, and for the She Has Hope rehabilitation home. The rental facilities we are making use of right now have been inspected and deemed not safe to withstand future earthquakes because of fractures found in the buildings.

We look forward to reporting back about our continued efforts to help rebuild the lives of our girls and children, and the surrounding community, that have been devastated by the earthquake.

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