Meet Karuna and her Bajai

Reuniting families makes us proud.

Karuna’s mother remarried after her husband disappeared and Karuna was left with her grandmother. In desperation Karuna’s grandmother admitted her sweet 9 year-old grandchild into an orphanage in Lalitpur believing the child would be much better cared for.

Thankfully the Nepal Government shut down ‘Friendship Nepal Orphanage’ in July 2017 and Karuna was one of 14 children rescued from despair and exploitation.

Karuna was 14 years old when she was finally rescued and reunified with her grandmother. Things didn’t go entirely to plan and she ran away back to Kathmandu. Her grandmother let us know immediately and we collected Karuna from the bus station, bringing her to our transit home Shakti Ghar for counseling and assessment.

For two weeks Karuna was given the space and support to make some decisions about her future and family life. Years of separation and orphanage life had taken its toll on this troubled teenager. She felt overwhelmed by the love and care she was experiencing from her family and village.

Despite family life adjustment challenges, Karuna is a shining example of the adage: love conquers all.

The team sees the devastating harms institutionalisation has on children and this is why we are working so hard to end the orphanage era and get kids home to family as soon as possible.

You can help by sharing stories to help get the message out to family and friends that visiting or donating to orphanages means operators need more orphans to keep up with demand.

Donations bring our rescue and reunification stories to life.

Voluntourism for a Better World

Check out this recent article published in The Australian:

Combining good works with your overseas travel seems like a perfectly altruistic adventure. Alas “voluntourism” is a road with twists and shocking turns, the worst being the discovery that tourists’ generous empathy for orph­ans created a child-trafficking racket in several countries. It’s now recognised that volunteering in orph­anages feeds exploit­­ation of children. It has been abolished by many organisations, is discouraged by the Australian government and soon may be banned…



A practical resource for schools online now

Check out these Curriculum Modules developed to support Australian schools in teaching about the complex issues of institutionalisation, voluntourism and orphanage tourism. These modules are mapped to the Victorian Government Curriculum and are aimed at the Year 10 level.

You can access, and download the modules by clicking the link!



Humans of Lismore love Matt!

“I wanted to travel across borders without flying so I flew from Brisbane to Singapore and travelled through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China all by buses and cars. Crossing from Thailand across the Mekong River into Northern Laos was an eye opener, going from a developed country to little houses with dirt floors. When I crossed some back wood border from Vietnam into China they x-rayed my bags and confiscated my guide books…


VERY LIMITED TIX REMAIN – if you don’t want to miss out on this spectacular Indian FEAST fundraising for projectHELP & the Brighter Futures Study Centres hosted by this pedal-powered hero, you need to get in quick!!



Children in Families: Global Meeting

FMN is one of 25 organisations participating in ‘Children in Families’ Global Meeting at London Business School 16-18 August. Andrea Nave and Anju Pun have made the trip to join forces with other like-minded change-makers. Collaboration is most certainly the key to ensuring all children are raised in safe families by 2040. Watch this space for some exciting collaborations!

Indian FEAST in Clunes

Got your tickets yet? Matt Brice’s annual Indian FEAST is renowned as the yummiest fundraiser in Northern Rivers – no word of a lie!

Come and sample Indian street food with friends. Listen to live music & soaking in the afternoon setting sun. Followed by a 3 course Indian FEAST including sweets and Matt’s famous masala chai!

The FEAST will help us provide education and brighter futures to over 2000 children living in some of India’s poorest slums.




Orphanage Tourism Conference 2018


Join ReThink Orphanages Network to explore the ethics and alternatives for orphanage tourism. Be there for the launch of brand new school resources and curriculum module on ethical community engagement overseas hot off the press! Everyone in the education sector looking to learn more about this issue and engage with leading experts should be there, regardless of direct involvement with orphanage tourism and school trips. This is for you!

Coming soon to a city near you:

Melbourne (24 August)
Perth (Oct 10)
Adelaide (Oct 29)
Sydney (Oct 30)
Brisbane (Oct 31)



UPDATE: Asha Orphanage Rescue

In February this year, the Nepal Government finally agreed for Forget Me Not to formally assess the second largest orphanage in the country, Asha Orphanage in the tourist capital of Chitwan. Forget Me Not was engaged to carry out the task over what we thought would be a 5-day period with our two assessing officers.

The initial findings were shocking.

The orphanage was overcrowded with children found starving, sick and suffering. The operators had very limited information about the children and were regularly bringing tourists and volunteers to the orphanage. The record keeping and financial management was virtually non-existent.

The children themselves told their own stories of abuse and violence including hard labour, constant hunger, threats and suffering.

Our team called for back up and Country Director Anju immediately joined with four more staff. The assessment took seven staff 15 days straight!

The final number of children found in the home was 301 of which there were only 23 orphans amongst the cohort. The children are aged between 4 and 18 years old many trafficked up to 15 years ago with no family connection since that time and others as recently as two years, post-quake.

The assessment of Asha Orphanage is being hailed an historic marker in Nepal as the Government, post civil war and two massive earthquakes later, takes definitive steps towards responsibility for child protection and deinstitutionalisation.

As a result of the strong and loyal support we were able be precisely where we were needed at this critical time!

Forget Me Not was able to take the lead in driving the assessment recommendations and reach agreement to prioritise rescue and family reconnection for these children.

We are now working intensively with each child held at Asha Orphanage and to date we have assessed 157 families and 91 children have returned home.

Our collaborative approach, with four other aid agencies, has assisted immensely with this initial phase including provision of health camps. However, it is proudly Forget Me Not championing the cause, leading the charge with family assessments and economic strengthening requirements for reunified children to remain at home and in school into the future.

Thank you for your loyalty and commitment to this work – We can’t do it without you!

UK Government acknowledges “orphanages harm children” and will work towards closures

For the first time the UK government has formally recognised that overseas orphanages harm children and has promised to support closures, long-term.

This marks a breakthrough moment for the growing global movement to eliminate orphanages.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, made the announcement during the first Global Disability Summit in London today.

“The UK government recognises that institutionalisation harms children’s physical, emotional and psychological development. Children with disabilities are often the first to be placed in institutions, the last to leave institutional care and often end up being forgotten by society”, she said…



Orphanage Trafficking and the Modern Slavery Act in Australia

By Kate van Doore and Rebecca Nhep

Recent estimates suggest that there are over 40 million victims of modern slavery in the world today. Modern Slavery is an umbrella term encompassing the offences of human trafficking, slavery, debt bondage, forced labour and other slavery-like practices. Due to the scale and the heinous nature of these crimes, a number of countries are strengthening measures to combat modern slavery, including through the introduction of Modern Slavery legislation. Following the lead of the United Kingdom, a parliamentary Inquiry into whether Australia should establish a Modern Slavery Act was held in 2017. One of the foci of the Inquiry was the issue of how Australia contributes to modern slavery through ‘orphanage trafficking’. Australia is a key donor and volunteer sending country with respect to overseas orphanages, or residential care institutions. The Parliamentary Inquiry heard extensive evidence from non-government organisations and academics pertaining to Australia’s potential involvement in orphanage trafficking through the charity, tourism, education and faith-based sectors. Australia is the first government to consider legislating for orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery…