On 12 August our mighty Herd expanded and WOWSERS we are grateful
In case you missed it – here’s the rapid round up!
If you want to watch Andrea’s pitch in full, here it is!
You can read the transcript below.
Your donations really make a huge difference in people’s lives. Thank you.
Transcript – enjoy!
JP: Our third organisation tonight is Forget Me Not. It’s a Nepal-based organisation that exists to prevent children and young people around the world from being displaced by investing in programs that keep children within their families and out of institutions. We’re going to hear from Andrea Nave, CEO of Forget Me Not. She’s coming through the vortex. I can fee her ready to arrive. There she is. Hello.
AN: Hi Jacinta, how are you?
AN: Thank you very much for letting me speak tonight. It’s a real honour. I’d like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which I stand tonight the Turrbal and Yuggera people and I’d like to acknowledge their leaders past, present and emerging. I understand that this was and always will be aboriginal land that we stand on tonight.
Hi everyone my name is Andrea Nave and I’m the CEO of Forget Me Not Australia.
I want to tell you a story tonight about a little girl called Alisha. Alisha was just four years old when she came to live with us in our orphanage in 2006. That’s Alisha there.
We had supported Alisha over the years with love, health care, nutrition, education and a whole range of things to help her thrive. We thought we were doing the absolute right thing in providing care and a home for orphans – I mean, who wouldn’t?
One rainy monsoonal August I was in Kathmandu Nepal visiting the children, checking up on their welfare and their progress and so on.
And Alisha came to me with her beautiful brown eyes welling full of tears and she said to me, “Aunty please I want to go home – I want to see my mother and my father. Please Aunty.”
Man I was completely shocked. I was rocked to the core. You know this little girl was supposed to be an orphan without a mother and father. We had documentation, death certificates and birth certificates, all the necessary paperwork to show that she was an orphan. Somehow we had to find her family.
After a lot of heartache and with Alisha’s plea fresh in my mind, now we knew it was time to do better. We had to. We decided to turn our organisation around. We quickly discovered that all twenty girls in our care, not just Alisha but all of them, had families who could care for them. It was time to do better for sure.
We thought we were making a positive difference. We really genuinely did. But sixty years of research shows us that institutions harm children and that harm lasts well into adulthood. Often with irreversible developmental delays, attachment disorders, lack of belonging, poor relationships, when compared to their peers they’re most likely to fall into substance abuse, homelessness or even suicide. Now how is that fair? Research shows that 80% of children in orphanages have parents who could care for them if they were supported themselves. It was really time to bust this orphanage myth.
With these crucial pieces of information we set about to turn our organisation around. It took some time, some hard work but today we’ve changed our organisation from offering orphanage care to now offering support for families to care for their own children. Changing out dated and harmful systems. We’re leading the way with legal research, our best practice in our work is recognised globally. It’s evidence based and most importantly children are at the forefront. It is their rights and needs that drive our work forward.
We work with the Nepal government to assess and rescue children, to formally identify them and with careful planning and skilled case management, we bring them home. Back to family where they belong, and then with continued monitoring we make sure that they are safe and able to stay reintegrated permanently with their family. That’s where they belong.
You know our team of reintegration officers they trek across the country far and wide tracing family. These are three of our reintegration officers here.
They are armed with photographs and little snippets of information and they very, very often face very difficult terrain. Sometimes walking for days through all kinds of weather, even landslides, across mountainsides to the most remote places in Nepal.
It was in the remote Himalayan mountains of Humla, in a tiny little village called Rasuwa that we found Alisha’s family. We found them intact, mum and dad, siblings, all grieving for the loss of their child. You know they thought Alisha was dead until we came knocking.
This work is complex, it is difficult and it is very raw but it’s vitally essential.
There’s just 450 orphanages remaining in the country today with 11,350 children registered living in them. All of those children, we believe, can go home.
That figure of 80% of research shows that children have family – our work over the last eleven years working with over 717 children shows that number to be closer to 97%. That’s 97% of children in those orphanages can be at home. We also have solutions for the remaining 3% children.
Our work has impacted government, it’s changed laws and influenced laws here in Australia and overseas. Orphanage trafficking is now recognised as a form of child trafficking under international law. All of these massive changes and impacts, all because we listened to one little girl’s plea. Thanks Alisha.
You know when Alisha was returned to her home to her Grandmother she said it was as if gold had been laid at her feet. Can you imagine?
It costs just $2500 to rescue and reintegrate a child – to give them back their childhood and to rebuild a family. It’s a small price for such a massive impact!
You know $10K means profoundly changing the lives of four children, their family and their community.
$20K will deliver this chance for 8 children, and so on.
You know our team will not stop. They continue to find families under the most extreme and now unprecedented circumstances.
Tonight I’m asking you if you will help us change a child’s trajectory from unnecessarily having to live out their childhoods in an orphanage and to help us bring them home. With your help tonight we know it’s time to deliver more gold. Thanks for listening.
JP: … thousand. Are you there?
AN: Boom! Wow! That is incredible, incredible, incredible! We are mind blown. I am so very very grateful to everybody in this room tonight for bringing these funds together. It will impact children directly. I mean, I tried to get a Venn diagram together and you know our commonality is that we were all children once. We all know those childhood heartaches, and imagine if you weren’t with your family. This money is a game changer. It will accelerate our work so fast. We can now say YES to more and more children coming through our processes. It’s mind blowing, truly mind blowing. I can’t wait to get off the phone. I actually can’t wait to send a WhatsApp message to Alisha. I want to tell her that her story has moved mountains.
JP: Can you please send all of our love to her?
AN: I will. I’ll be passing that through, and I know my team have been sending messages through well-wishing for tonight, and I also want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. You guys are the heroes. Our local team on the ground have done incredible work. With all of your engine, with all of those funds pushing us forward we can see an end to orphanages in Nepal. Thank you so much. Thank you so very much.
JP: That’s a beautiful way to put it Andrea. Thank you so much for the opportunity that we’ve all had this evening and we wish you luck. We cannot wait to see some of the great stories that this funding will have and we, we give energy to your team to continue that work.
AN: Thank you, thank you so much and I will pass it all on. Our heartfelt thanks and Namaste from everyone Nepal-side. Thank you.
JP: Yes, thank you.