Finding a voice

“Because of STOP Girl Trafficking, I have made it to grade 10, and they have helped me regain my confidence and will help me become independent. It is difficult for me to express the emotions I feel for them.”  - Manju Joshi

Manju Joshi is 17 years old. Eleven years ago her father died while working in India. Her family never learned the circumstances of his death—murder wasn’t ruled out as a possibility. His brother, Manju’s uncle, brought her to India. Having no daughters himself, he claimed he would treat Manju as his own child.

Manju wanted to go to school, but she was unable to speak the language and forced to quit after a couple days. Instead of school, she labored all day doing house work, washing dishes, and carrying water for her uncle and his tenants. Both her uncle and the tenants were abusive—they beat her and kept her in a small, dark room. When her mother’s family called, they were told she wasn’t available.

After seven months, her mother’s brother suspected mistreatment and went to India to find her. Seeing the cigarette burns on her hands, he knew he needed to bring Manju home immediately.

STOP Girl Trafficking (SGT) staff found her in grade 6, encouraged her to return to school, and started supporting her from grade 7. But within a couple years after returning from India, Manju’s throat began to swell, she had trouble eating solid food and she lost her voice, likely connected to the trauma she had experienced. Staying in school had become too difficult, until SGT staff checked in on her.

They brought her to their office in Kathmandu, where she spent three months in intensive voice therapy—something that would have been impossible without SGT’s support. Her voice is raspy, but she can speak and eat again without discomfort. Manju, now in grade 10, is happy and proud to be back in school.

Oh, and did I mention that she’s also a poet?

-Bruce, from the field