Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with about one-quarter of its population living below the poverty line. According to the 2013 Human Development Report by UNDP, Nepal was ranked 157 out of 186 countries. 28.8% of the population lives in severe poverty (less than 1.25 USD/day).
Nepal has experienced great political instability. After an insurgency led by Maoist extremists broke out in 1996 against a long-standing monarchy, a 10-year civil war ensued. According to a 2005 report by Child Workers in Nepal, cited by UNICEF, over 40,000 Nepali children are estimated to have been displaced over the course of the Maoist uprising.
After the November 2006 Peace Accord, the war ended and new government was formed. However, efforts to draft a constitution have failed continuously resulting in continued political instability. Constituent Assembly elections are set to be held in December 2013.
A combination of the effects of poverty, conflict and political instability, gender inequality and traditional social pressure have created a situation where families have become vulnerable and are easily exploited by traffickers, who promise safety, high quality education and a future for their children. For this service, “traffickers demand vast sums from already impoverished families. They then quickly remove children from their villages. Obtaining guardianship of the children, they proceed to transfer them to orphanages in Kathmandu, which are often operating illegally, or keep them enslaved as street beggars and labourers supporting the traffickers and their families. In many cases, children have falsified documents declaring them orphans and making them available for international adoptions.
The children, some as young as three or four years old, effectively become “paper orphans” exploited by an inadequately regulated and monitored adoption system.”
Why We Care
Our Mission is to help keep vulnerable children safe and to ensure that children’s most fundamental rights are protected; including their right to be with their families.
Our Vision is to contribute to the reduction of child trafficking by restoring dignity in Nepali girls, women and families through family reconnection, education and empowerment.
What We Do in Nepal
Forget Me Not Children’s Home
The Forget Me Not Children’s Home serves as a transition home for children in the process of reintegration as well as a home for long term and permanent care for children depending on their specific needs. The children staying here are safe and secure in a loving environment. They are provided with excellent education, medical care, psychosocial support, nutritious food, and attentive and dedicated caretakers.
Forget Me Not Families
In response to the very strong child driven desire to know their families, we launched Forget Me Not Families from January 2013. Since then we have been able to trace families and facilitate reconnections for 19 of our 20 girls!
How does reunification work?
Our team of reintegration officers and counselors build trusting relationships with the children, so they feel safe and supported throughout the entire process. As we collect information from the children (from their memories of their homes and families) and official records, we being tracing the families in villages throughout Nepal.
Once we locate the families, we begin the process of reconnecting them with their children. Before meeting the child we talk with the family to better understand the original reasons why the child was displaced. Once we are confidant that the reconnection will not put the child at risk, we allow the child to meet the family. We are very careful to ensure the safety of the child each step of the way. After this initial meeting, the families begin to rebuild their relationships through phone calls and visits. A series of assessments are conducted over time to analyse the optimal case management for each child – whether that is full reunification, kinship care or long-term care in Forget Me Not Children’s Home.
Forget Me Not Futures
We believe in the value of higher education so that as each child grows into an adult and are equipped with the tools and skills to support themselves. The aim of Forget Me Not Futures is to provide counseling to empower the girls in our care to believe in their potential, talent and worth and help them achieve their educational and career dreams. After completing SLC (grade 10), the young adults begin to take on more responsibilities as they transition to independence. Our Counselor and Empowerment Program Manager works with each child (whether they have been reunified or if they are still living in FMNCH) to develop an education and career plan and help them achieve it.