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Sanju's story

Jul 2, 2013

Neal Riordan

A Kamlari is a young Nepali girl who is sent away to work as an indentured servant in a wealthy household, often for her whole childhood. The practice has been illegal in Nepal since 2006 but it remains common, especially in communities where people have historically worked as bonded laborers. These people are now “free”, but, without land or means, many still resort to sending their daughters into which is essentially slavery  -  for as little as $12 a year. We and our partners are doing our best to protect as many of these girls – like Sanju, below – as we can.

My name is Sanju and I was a kamlari. I come from a very poor village and, when my mother ran away three years ago, it became impossible to hold the family together. My brother had already dropped out of school to work, and my father, even in his old age, was working as a laborer when he could.  So they sent me to work as a kamlari. I was 10.

It was very hard for me, physically and emotionally. While the other children of my age were going to school and learning new things, I was taking care of someone else’s babies. I worked 14 hours every day, cooking and cleaning up. The family acted like they owned me and the work was so overwhelming I just wished I could run away. I would cry, but nobody seemed to care. They didn’t even give me enough to eat so I had to resort to stealing food at night sometimes.

I suffered like this for two years until I was freed [by a community group] and could return to my little family. When Stop Girl Trafficking was introduced in my school, I was selected and it is only because of this that I can go to school. Even though my life is not easy at home, I am so happy to be able to attend school. I finally feel safe, knowing I will get to study instead of being sent away again.

 

Sanju Kumari Choudhary
Shree Siddhanath Primary School, Grade 5

Read More About:
Children
Education
Nepal
Trafficking Prevention
Women

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