NepalThere are many young Nepali women social workers out there who aren’t CNN Heroes
Diksha Chapagain of Taplejung lives with a family of 27 members on the outskirts of Kathmandu. They are not blood relations, but disadvantaged people whom Diksha has adopted. Her ‘family’ includes eight-month-old Ashrita and 70-year-old Bir Bahadur Tamang, and 16 others are of school-going age.
Ten years ago, when Diksha was 20, she saw a child rummaging through a rubbish pile looking for something to eat. She took him to hospital, but found out he could not speak, so she started taking care of him on her own. Diksha found the need of Kathmandu’s poor and abandoned so great that she set up the Pabitra Samaj Sewa Nepal.
When her children go to school, Diksha goes house-to-house collecting clothes, food, or money for the upkeep of her ‘family’. All the children share the same surname, Nepal, and call their simple house, which is built on government land, home.
Sabita Uprety, 26, of Dolakha used to work at the National Disability Fund, but left to do more meaningful work for children with mental and physical disabilities. She set up her own shelter in Sinamangal where the children learn to do ordinary things until they are confident enough to go to school on their own.
It isn’t easy for Sabita to raise money to run her home, so her centre charges parents who can afford to pay for their children’s rehabilitation. So far, Sabita has helped more than 30 children overcome their disabilities.
When Sharmila Thapa became single six years ago, she realised how difficult life can be for young women who live alone. So with six other single women, Sharmila set up the Samida Women Development Forum in Lajimpat which provides training and life-skills to victims of domestic abuse.
Menuka Thapa, 31, runs Raksha Nepal to educate and rehabilitate women who work in the sex industry, and she is currently sheltering 10 women and 25 minors. Menuka has educated and trained more than 300 girls and women so they can stand on their own feet. Menuka knows their pain because she grew up as an orphan herself in a family of nine siblings. She came to Kathmandu to learn music, but saw how women at dance restaurants were abused and set up Raksha Nepal. Menuka says rescuing exploited girls is difficult because dance bars and the sex industry enjoy political and police protection.
Says Menuka: “No one would work in the sex industry if they had a choice. No woman should be driven to such desperation.”By Santa Gaha MagarNepali Times25-31 January 2013
Hold my hand: Diksha Chapagain (above) and Menuka Thapa (below) and take care of homeless and disadvantaged children. (BIKRAM RAI)