In a couple of weeks I will embark on my journey to the home of the himalayas, the home of my ancestors. Other than meeting friends and family after years, there is another reason for my excitement, my fellowship. As of right now, I will be frank my emotions are all jumbled up, I haven’t been able to distinguish it from excited to apprehensive. However, as I near the date of my departure I am hoping my emotion will settle. My trip this summer will be focused on an issues I have had plenty of time to ponder upon and something my guilty soul hopes to bring a slight change to – bonded child labor.
Yes, my family and I are guilty. While having conversations with my grandmother about my childhood I get recollections of an innocent face peering from behind a propped open door. The face that would bring out the chia and biscoots when we had guests, the face that would never make eye contact with any person in the room – the face of the servant’s son. “Your school is not meant for our kids maiya” Kanchi didi, the Rai housekeeper, would tell me when I asked why Shyam, the face, did not attend my school. As I followed the routine of a chetri child, Shyam would follow the routine of a thallo jaat, servant – his day starting at 4AM, mine at 8AM.
This is a scene of the early 90’s in Nepal, days when the caste system was followed more as a way of life than a system put into place by the hindu culture. However, times have changed and in 1995, as a member of the ILO-IPEC the Nepalese government constituted a National Steering Committee on Child Labour. Since then efforts have been made to eliminate child labor nationally, yet, the lack of enforcement and prosecution has caused child labor to remain a pressing issues.
In a couple of weeks I will be in Tulsipur, Nepal working with Backward Society Education (BASE). With a mission to reduce child labor, they have successfully captured and rehabilitated multiple bonded children by designating 313 Child Friendly Villages (CFV) in five districts of western Nepal. With this said, however, there are significant changes left to be made, most importantly strict enforcement of child labor laws and prosecution of perpetrators.
I feel privileged to have this opportunity this summer to not only pay for the crime my family once committed, but to also give a voice for justice to those children who have dismissed the idea of a better life. There’s going to be many bumpy roads and hazardous twists on this journey, LITERALLY, and I am looking forward to your thoughts and feedbacks as I approach them. Thank you for your support and I will talk to you soon from the home of the himalayas!
BASE Child Friendly Village; Video by previous AP Peace Fellow
Posted By Sujita Basnet
Posted May 13th, 2013