Reuniting families makes us proud.
Maya was just 5 years old when her parents brought her to an orphanage with high hopes of giving her a great start in life with a good education. The family travelled seven hours by foot through the mountains, followed by twelve hours on a bumpy bus!
Seven precious childhood years were lost within the walls of that abusive orphanage.
Maya told us the children at the orphanage were woken at 4am every morning but were to tell visitors they woke at 6am or they would be punished. She said she was often hungry because they were only fed breakfast 5 hours after waking and dinner at 5pm sharp with a light lunch in between. No snacks! They worked hard and were very hungry. Maya doesn’t like to think about her days in the orphanage.
Today 12 year-old Maya is living with her parents and three younger sisters in a rented space in the suburbs of Kathmandu valley. When we visited her family recently we found Maya braiding her sister’s hair for school. It was lovely seeing the children sharing breakfast and getting ready together. Her little sisters are helping Maya learn her native language.
This was particularly heartwarming considering the psychological damage this innocent child endured from years of institutionalisation.
Maya says being home with her family feels like her dreams have come true. The entire family asked us to convey their deepest gratitude for helping bring their family together again. They say, with beaming smiles from ear to ear and hands in prayer position a very sincere, Dhanyabaad!
BREAKING NEWS: Today the Modern Slavery Bill 2018 passed the House of Representatives and is on the way to the Senate – Australia makes history as the first nation in the world to recognise orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery.
“As a result of this legislation, Australia will also be the first nation in the world to recognise orphanage trafficking as a form of modern slavery. This means that a reporting entity with activities or supply chains which involve orphanages will need to assess and report on any risks relating to modern slavery in these operations,” said Senator Reynolds.
World Challenge, the largest school-based volunteer travel company worldwide, has decided to stop offering trips to orphanages, after a disturbing link between orphanages and child trafficking was uncovered.
The menfolk in our Kathmandu office have been celebrating our incredible women – Happy Teej!
This is 9 year old Tansy.
Tansy is a champ, just like her sisters Poppy and Saffy! All 3 are part of our Cycle for Brighter Futures team this year! The team will be riding 240kms through Kerala in Southern India to raise funds for kids health and education.
Can you help her reach her goal?
Want to help? First you must be willing to learn.
This year, over ten million people will go abroad, eager to find the perfect blend of adventure and altruism. Volunteer travel can help you find your place in the world-and find out what you’re made of. So why do so many international volunteer programs fail to make an impact? Why do some do more harm than good?
Learning Service offers a powerful new approach that invites volunteers to learn from host communities before trying to ‘help’ them. It’s also a thoughtful critique of the sinister side of volunteer travel; a guide for turning good intentions into effective results; and essential advice on how to make the most of your experience.
This book is for volunteers and educators alike. If you’re wondering if volunteer travel is right for you; if you’re getting on the plane tomorrow; or if you’re trying to adjust to life as a returned volunteer-this is the book you need in your bag.
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.
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…
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!
“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!!