Children thrive in safe families and vibrant communities NOT in orphanages. We invest your donations and sponsorship dollars in family reintegration and prevention projects in Nepal that support the implementation of the Nepal Government deinstitutionalisation plan.
Our current Asha Orphanage rescue and reunification program to reintegrate children with their families has been exciting and challenging. We set a target to find families for 90 children: 24 from Dhading and 66 from Chitwan. Our goal is to free all 301 children from Asha Orphanage.
After initial consultation we found both parents for 27 children, 31 children with one living parent and we discovered 5 children with no living parents. We are yet to have any breakthroughs tracing families for the remaining 27 children in this 90-child cohort. We will continue the search for family connections for all 27 children.
Despite monsoon rain, muddy trails, leeches, dangerous rivers and unsafe night shelters in remote villages, our team completed discovery missions and returned to Kathmandu office safely with many inspiring stories to share. During these missions our Reintegration Officers were able to visit 23 children and their families. These children were reunified in June 2018. All are adjusting well to family and village life.
Children are not always able to return home safely. Entrenched social problems sometimes impact the capacity for mothers and fathers to raise their children in a safe and loving home environment. Child safety is paramount for reintegration to happen. Where safety is an issue we explore options for kinship care, which can be problematic where parents are affected by addiction.
Our team is tasked with recruiting potential foster carers within the communities we visit. We are confident we can find a family for every child.
We are building stronger families and communities.
Our team collaborated with 18 village ward officials during missions in Dhading and Chitwan and built community trust in the local state authorities. This then helped to ensure newly elected local authorities understood the long-term harms caused by unnecessary family separation and highlighted orphanage trafficking as a very real problem in our communities.
It takes a village to raise a child and we are grateful to Chitwan teachers and other community members who helped us immensely during our missions. Our ROs took every opportunity to educate villagers with anti-trafficking messages and share stories about orphanage trafficking. We made sure they understood that some vulnerable families might be conned into sending their children with traffickers on false promises for better education.
Visiting families confirmed our goal of reuniting children with their families as soon as practicable as best practice. Our team report the earlier the reunion the fewer adjustment issues within the family.
Ganga & Aarati
These gorgeous sisters were passed into orphanage life due to poor health and poverty at home. Ganga was a toddler when she entered Asha Orphanage and years later Aarati was admitted when she was 7 years old. Their father disappeared long ago and their mother has been ill for many years.
With our support we have reunited this family and in June the girls bid farewell to orphanage life forever. Both are studying diligently and enjoying learning about family life together.
Aarati enjoys dance classes after school and both girls feel loved and well cared for by their mother, aunt and extended family. They say it is wonderful to be home.
Kriti & Sushila
One year after their father died three-year-old Kriti and eighteen month old Sushila were admitted to Asha Orphanage. Now after 13 long years of separation, these sisters are home their family. We are providing extra support for this family because the adjustment is complex.
The orphanage raised the girls Christian but their family belongs to the Brahmin community so non-vegetarian meals for the girls must be prepared outside of the home. Thirteen years is a very long time to be separated from your family and raised with different values. Kriti misses her childhood friends from Asha Orphanage.
We will continue to provide regular monitoring and counselling as well as financial support for school lunches to help alleviate some of the pressures during this crucial transition period.
After 3 long years held at Asha Orphanage Sudipa loves being home with her family. She plays with her pet goats in family in Chitwan. She spends time with her friends in her local neighborhood and enjoys helping her uncle and aunt with household chores when she can. There is no better way for Sudipa to learn valuable life skills than with her family, at home.
Her uncle did not hesitate to have Sudipa live with him and his family and enrolled her in the local community school promptly. Sudipa is happy and healthy and joyfully embraces the freedom of belonging to family.
Minu was 3 months old when her mother left home and remained out of contact. In the absence of proper parenting, her grandfather admitted Minu to Asha Orphanage. The orphanage sent baby Minu to Kathmandu but she was soon returned and remained at the orphanage until her thirteenth birthday.
Minu showed us what should have been a nutritional meal but was merely a bowl with noodles soaking in cold water. She smiled sweetly and said, ‘this is what we have to eat to survive here.’
Minu never expected to be freed from Asha Orphanage, so you can imagine her sheer delight when in June 2018 Minu finally got to go home with her grandfather, reunited forever.
Today, Minu is cherishing her new life and is happy to be with her grandparents in her village.
Reuniting families makes us proud.
This gorgeous young man is Hari. He was admitted into Asha Orphanage in Chitwan when he was just eight years old. Hari’s mother had passed away and his father Thilmen believed he could no longer manage so took advice from villagers and the local pastor to send his three boys to the orphanage.
Our team contacted Thilmen to inform him that the orphanage was closed and all children were to be returned home to their families. Hari’s big brother Shyam travelled from Dhading and arrived to collect Hari with the widest smile you ever did see!
When we visit Hari at home with his family in Dhading he says he walks 30 minutes to school and has made lots of new friends. He is very happy to be home with his brothers and father but prefers not to speak of his time in the orphanage.
There are an estimated 8 million children in orphanages worldwide! Staggering considering that we know 85% are not orphans and the 15% deserve family based care not an orphanage life. With 60+ years of research and from listening to those with lived experience, we know that institutionalisation harms children.
Well-meaning people like you and I are driving the demand for orphans and that is why Australia is taking the lead in considering legislating against orphanage tourism in recognition that child trafficking into orphanages is a form of modern day slavery.
Please stop perpetuating the orphan myth.
The great thing about Forget Me Not is that the Board changed what they were doing as soon as they learned this truth instead of saying ‘not my orphanage’. This is brave, courageous and deeply respectful of children and families. When we know better we must do better.
Thanks to our ever-expanding mighty Herd for all of your support, especially our awesome Rescue Crew! It’s really making a difference on the ground. There’s nothing quite like the feeling one has when they reunite a family, especially after many years of separation and no contact. It’s incredibly uplifting and definitely feeds the passion for our Team to continue their dedicated and driven work to find a family for every child!
Our Team reached Chitwan after 12 hours backed up in traffic on the main highway. The trip is usually just 5-6 hours! Mangal, Kavita and Prativa were tasked with family tracing for 27 children and monitoring 12 children already reunited with their families.
We’re so pleased to share that we found the families of 3 children on Day 2 – our Team do not muck around! Please enjoy this short photo essay direct from Chitwan:
Our Team hit the ground running after a VERY long bus ride to Chitwan.
Family tracing is serious work and involves MANY conversations with locals.
We are careful to record every bit of extra information we can collect.
These gorgeous brothers are smiling from ear to ear because we found their family!
The children are SO EXCITED to be enrolled in their local school.