New Building for Freed Kamlari Girls Symbolizes Freedom & Justice
August marked the celebration of a remarkable milestone for the Freed Kamlari girls: the inauguration of their first and very own, brand-new building. From first abolishing the Kamlari system in 2013 to now celebrating their new headquarters, these girls have come a long way in standing up to injustice.
The Freed Kamlari girls performing at the inauguration ceremony of their newest headquarters.
“I carried many dreams during the long, two-decade journey against slavery. Some were fulfilled, and some are in the process of becoming fulfilled. But, the biggest dream of all – the end of the Kamlari system – has now been fulfilled.”
Man Bahadur Chhetri, Program Coordinator
Members of the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (the organization NYF helped the girls create) gathered to formally inaugurate the four-story building, located in the Dang District of the Terai. This new headquarters finally gives the girls their own space to organize meetings, plan campaigns, and run training programs.
Securing the funds to fulfill this dream was not an easy process. The young women held meetings, submitted proposals, and lobbied the government. It took a lot of hard work and determination – a true testament to what the girls are capable of. With training, coaching, and mentoring from NYF, the girls triumphed and received sufficient grants (mostly from the government) to buy the land and build the office.
The inauguration ceremony was a colorful event that transcended the opening of the building: it was a celebration of all the accomplishments they’ve made. Shanta Chaundry, a former Kamlari and elected member of the local parliament, was the official ribbon cutter of the ceremony. She spoke, focusing on education being the key to their future – something the office will help make happen.
Slideshow of the celebration
NYF was honored to be among the featured guests at the inauguration, where Executive Director Raju Dhamala expressed our continued commitment to the young women. Addressing the girls directly, he said, “We’re providing vocational training to offer new futures for you and your family, and will continue to stand with you.”
“The office is more than just a building,” NYF Program Coordinator Man Bahadir Chhetri, also proudly stated. “It is a resource and training center to produce leaders and productive citizens who fight against social injustices. It is a safe shelter for girls and women to come together and share their stories. I hope that this building becomes a power center which can produce strong female leadership.”
“Thousands of girls are now leading lives of freedom and dignity after being rescued from slavery. Hands that once held dirty dishes now hold books and pen … Girls who were sold into slavery for 3,000 rupees a year are earning more than 1,000 rupees a day.”
Man Bahadur Chhetri, Program Coordinator
Empowering Freed Kamlari/FKDF
Since launching the Indentured Daughters program in 2000, NYF has rescued nearly 13,000 girls and helped to end the practice of Kamlari. More than just bringing the girls home, however, we built an infrastructure to provide peer counseling, vocational training, and support to establish small businesses.
As the Indentured Daughters campaign evolved and grew into NYF’s Empowering Freed Kamlari program, NYF provided comprehensive support for the education and economic empowerment of these young women so they would remain free.
NYF then supported the freed girls in forming their own NGO – the Freed Kamlari Development Forum (FKDF) – and together, NYF and the FKDF played a critical role in pushing the Nepal government to end the practice of bonded labor in 2013.
As NYF continues to transition leadership to the FKDF, we’re proud of their ongoing accomplishments, and grateful for the generous donors who’ve made it all possible.
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Learn more about how NYF makes real change possible in Nepal by visiting our programs page. Read our latest newsletters, and join NYF’s email list here — or be a part of the change and donate to NYF today.