The only constant in life is change...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to Reality

          I knew Maiti Nepal had effected me, but I didn't realize how much until I moved back to New York. I have my girls in NYC, and every time I was around them, I thought about my girls in Maiti Nepal. How different their personalities, and lives are... I wish I could give my girls in Maiti Nepal a chance to just meet my girls in NYC. I remember, when I showed the Maiti Nepal girls pictures of my friends they were so excited and so eager to know about them. All they did was ask me about their personalities, their choice in style, and their hair color....which also led to a gazillion questions about America. Oh boy they were interested!! They asked me how many floors a building had, if there was electricity all the time, what they ate,the style and of course the BOYS. I loved answering all these questions, and I realized after about an hour of interview that they were trying to live and experience America, through me. Some had never seen tall buildings in their life, none of them knew that people actually ate beef, they raised their eyebrows when I told them how short the shorts in America are (haha)...the only thing they were sure of was that boys tare jerks. hahaha
           When I look back at how they were, all I can think to say is they were so...eager and appreciative. They were always eager to hear me talk and tell them stories, they were always eager to do a new activity I had thought of, always just eager to hear and learn new things. And trust me I CAN TALK...and most of the time it's nonsense....But I think and hope that I have learned to acquire that trait of eagerness from them. Even though i was just babbling away, they listened and made me feel important, and to be able to make someone feel worthy is such an amazing trait...
          They are also so  sooo appreciative. Around 12 girls share a bar of soap as shampoo for them. Now, I don't think I've ever used a bar of soap as shampoo and I don't know how I would feel about using that AND sharing it with 12 other girls...oh, and I forgot to mention..they have to make that soap last a month!!!!! But you know what....They don't mind. They see each other as sisters and don't care about how much who used and what they're using...all I ever hear them say is how thankful they are to be where they are today. Sharing a bar of soap as shampoo with 12 other girls is heaven to them; compared to being abused, raped and shunned by the age of 13. Hearing that makes me want to slap myself for being such a brat.
But you know what, I have changed. I have matured. I hope I have changed for the better, and matured just enough, but not enough to loose the eagerness in me. These girls have given me so much love that every time I think about it I start to tear up. My last day at Maiti Nepal, about 15 of them sat me down in a circle and said a little something to me. It started off with "Miss, please don't forget us" and moved to saying things like "I will never forget you because you taught me, a 28 year old woman how to write her name in English". That. Right there Was the best moment in my life. To have someone say that was the best gift I could have ever gotten. I really truly hope that I am able to give back to them. I love and appreciate life today because of them and I wanna just really do this, fight human trafficking, for them.

** I just wrote what I thought...not just in this blog, but the entire blog...Please don't judge? I know I have the worst grammar in the world, and most probably doesn't make sense... :-/ sorry**

Shimali P.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Maiti Nepal not only has housing and a counseling center for trafficked girls, but also has a school... and this past week they needed volunteers to proctor and exam, so I went! It was stressful and also so much fun...I'm just gonna lay out a couple of things for you, and tell you how it went after.
The setting of the exam is like this:
·        In one room there were about 25 kids, and they are randomly selected from grades 1-10 and put next to each other, so it would be kinda hard for a 10th grader to cheat off of a 1st grader..
·        The school is really strict. Kids are expected to wear uniforms. Walk with their hands on the back, and back straight. Ask permission to enter the room, and call their elders Sir or Ma'am.
·        There is a limited amount of supply, so they must share their rulers, protractors, and sometimes pens. They are given the paper to write in, and the teachers sign every paper they give out and mark if its plus one or two extras...
·        There is to be no talking (duhh) and they can't ask to use the bathroom until an hour or so after the exams have started.

Now, I am young looking "teacher" going in to proctor the exam...what do you think happened? They started out by coughing and then looking in the air...slowly their heads turning to their classmate who sat behind them. I yelled at them in Nepali, and clearly I had some sort of accent because they took notice of this and started to act up more.... I'll admit, I have cheated a little here and there, I'm not gonna lie... but now I had power, and I could either let them cheat and pass (like i always wished teachers would let me do) or make sure they received the grade they deserved because that's the only way to learn... I decided to be strict (haha sorry) cuz I realized that if I let them cheat and pass, they'd go out into the world, not know anything and disappoint Ms. Koirala, and I would also be disappointing Ms. Koirala and the principal at the school if I let them cheat...So. I got up, and shouted. This time in English. AND MANNN DID THAT HAVE POWER! hahaha The second I started speaking English, they all looked at me wide eyed, scared and looked back at their paper. It felt good! But, I must say, the kids here are really bad cheaters! They would just straight up turn around and ask their classmate, who was behind them, what the answer was. I got so pissed and just put my hands on my hips and said "Really?!? you have GOT TO BE JOKING?!" Haha
This went on pretty much everyday at the beginning of the exam, and by the middle of it, they stopped messing with me...And I think some even got a little too comfortable with me! haha There was a 10th grade student sitting next to a 1st grade student...the first grader had not idea what the answer to a question was, and so she called me over, gave me a smile, followed by a cute puppy dog face and asked me what this meant...the question was "What is the baby of a goat called?" Now how am I to answer that without giving her the I did the best I could and translated the question to her in Nepali... her response, "But Missssss, I still don't know" and pouts her lips. The 10th grader next to her, who has had me proctor almost all of his exams, looks at me and says "Come onnn Miss, just tell her!" hahahahahahahahaha
I swear, it's absolutely amazing here. Not all the students live here at Maiti Nepal, some live outside, but most live here... It's hard to tell what their story is... Some have scars on their face with smiles on, some have scared looks on their face trying to put a smile on, and some are just there, trying to be as "normal" as they can be... While I worked at the school I never once thought, oh some of these kids might be trafficked. I just assumed they were under privileged kids who came to school here from the outside, but my last day there, after school I saw many of the same faces walking around and I just kinda froze. Here I was treating them like they were just normal kids trying to cheat but they weren't normal, they weren't just born to a good home, ate healthy all their life and played around. They had been through stuff most of us couldn't even imagine going through....I felt bad for a second, but then I realized, no, I shouldn't feel bad. All I did was treat them like they were normal children....and that's what they probably wish. Just to be normal and treated normally. And I think that's what I've learned from them... I didn't teach them or anything, but they taught me. Taught me not to treat anyone differently because you feel sorry for them. Treat them like you'd want someone to treat you. Just normal. It's so hard for these kids to have a normal life, and even harder if people keep sympathizing them and reminding them about their past... the best way you can help them is treat them like you'd normally treat a student or a child.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Two weeks and counting...Still intense, still rewarding, but now reality is settling in. I'm here at Maiti Nepal 6 days a week, 7 hours a day. When my day ends, I go home, laugh with my family, and try to leave the stories out of my mind until I go back to work the next day. I've realized this is the best way to handle my situation here...just leave the work thoughts and emotions at work, and start a whole new rack of emotions and memories at home.
There are about 200-250 victims here...not all are victims of trafficking...some have run away from home and brought here by the police, some are lost and are here waiting to be found by their family, and some are children of the victims. When walking around by myself, I always try to observe the residents here and imagine what their story could be; and honestly, it's so hard to tell. Maiti Nepal has done such a wonderful job at creating a setting where everyone feels like they are on the same level, and no one belittles anyone, no matter what their history is. They are all given small chores to do, all fed the same food, and all must follow the same rules. The only thing expected from them is to behave properly by following the rules, and either go to school or train yourself to eventually have a career. There is a girl that I have grown to be an acquaintance with...I met her my first day here and she was very quiet and barely looked at me, but the next day she smiled, and slowly started say hi and making small talk. Now, I speak to her almost every time we see each other. We talk about the weather, what I ate, my family and her son. Her son goes to school here and is spoiled by everyone's love. She has told me about how she loves to sing and dance, and often performs at the small programs hosted by the organization. I have heard her sing, she sings beautifully, and she told me recently that she has also started to write her own song....Just like this I have gotten really comfortable with her.
Out of no where one day, when talking to her I felt like I have seen here somewhere but pushed my thoughts aside because maybe I was just having weird deja vu? But you know when you get a certain feeling sometimes and CANT seem to push it aside? Well, that's what happened to me...I could not get her out of my mind, so I asked the Counselor here. To my surprise, I HAD seen her before! Her story was one of the stories included in the documentary done by CNN. I could NOT believe it. When I had heard her story while watching the documentary in the US, I had shook my head in disbelief and wondered how she was still strong enough to live with the memories?!
She had been trafficked twice by the age of 12, had her kidney stolen and sold by an organ seller and had a son. I remember her story through watching the documentary, and she has been through hell and back. When she was a prisoner at the brothel, she was constantly beaten, burned with cigarettes, and they had also poured hot water on her if she refused or argued with the owners/ pimps. Not only were they cruel to her, but their evil extended so far that they were also heartless towards her son. Her 18 month son at that time was kept in a separate building from her, and when he cried, they burned cigarettes on his tongue. I had never thought that one could be so evil and heartless towards a child. He's a toddler for God's sake?! How can you be so heartless to burn a child's tongue?! Because of their cruelty, her son could not speak properly and is so traumatized that he is very afraid to even come close to a stranger. When you think of evil you only think it happens in movies. Evil like Cinderella's step mother or Voldemort in Harry Potter... You never imagine such villains to actually exist and hearing a true story about it really shakes up your world... How does one become so cruel? And it's crazy because some if these real life villains actually have daughters and children of their own? How are they able to burn cigarettes on toddlers and rape 12 year olds when they have their own children?! I believe in Karma, and though my belief is being tested right now, I still have hope for it and I pray to God that these evil, horrible, heartless beings get what they deserve and ten times worse.
I am not sure if the criminals have gotten exactly what they deserved, but the victim and her son have turned their life around. After escaping from the brothel and coming to Maiti Nepal the victim has been able to find the courage with the help from the counseling center in Maiti Nepal and tell her story not only to CNN but also be able to tell an author who turned it into a book about her struggle. Though she maybe well known, she doesn't know it or care about it AT ALL. She is happy to be able to inform other girls about trafficking and maybe save them through her stories, but she is even happier in Maiti Nepal where she has lived for 4 years and is able to sing, and dance and be around people who love her for who she is. She earns a living for herself as a gardener and is always telling me how much she loves knowing that the plants are thriving and beautiful because of her. Her son is also much happier here. He goes for speech therapy and is improving everyday, goes to school, and is always running around and causing trouble with his peers like children should be doing.

Everything I have seen, heard, and experienced here is just unbelievable... It gives me hope, and hopefully everyone else hope not to give up. Don't give up on hope, don't give up in your dreams and don't ever give up on yourself. No matter how bad your day is, remember good will come. Be patient, and don't give will come.

Friday, July 15, 2011

So far I have been in the country for about 9 days have have been
working for about 4 days. If I had to used 1-2 words to describe my
stay so far, it would have to be : Eye Opening.
At home I've taken cold showers expecting warm water to come any
minute, had a cockroach jump on my chest and have probably gained
one pound a day due to everyone's lovely cooking and persistence!haha
        At my internship, Maiti Nepal, I have not only been honored to meet
Ms. Anuradha Koirala, but also her team, who are as much of a hero as
she is.
       My first day here, I worked at the Women Rehabilitation Center (WRC) with girls and
women ages 11-35  who were thirsty to learn. I worked closely with a 13 year old girl who was always
jumping around and smiling brightly. She was so eager and dedicated
that within 3 hours she learned the ABC's, could recite it, sing the
song, AND recognize the letters. I've had great moments in my tiny 21
years, but I can honestly say that I have never felt so proud than I
did at the moment she recited it all to me. Proud of her for being so
smart and dedicated, and proud to have been the one to teach her! Not
only did I quickly get attached to her, but she did to me. She would
hold my hand, twirl around and recite the ABC's just to see me smile. And boy did she make me smile!
       After teaching we all had lunch hour and during that time I went to
the infant ward. There were about 8 infants there and were all so
adorable and fragile. These infants, I found out, were either children
of the trafficked girls, or were unwanted and dropped off at the gate
of Maiti Nepal. Here, at this organization, I quickly witnessed, that
nobody is denied, and there is no sort of discrimination against
anyone with any type of caste. Being overwhelmed by the situation of
these infants and cuteness, I went to the garden and saw the girl I
had taught earlier come running to me. She ran and asked me if I had
seen her little one. At first I thought she was referring to all the
infants as her own, since the girls treat each other's kids like their
own, but no; I found out, that she did in fact has her own child.
This adorable, bubbly, 13 year old had been raped at the age of 12 by
her family member and had run away from home. Maiti Nepal took her in
and helped her give birth to her now, 4 month old son. I could not
believe it, this little girl, who is still a child herself, had a
child of her own.  This little girl who weighs about 70 lbs, this
little girl who has such an adorable bright smile, and this little girl who
just learned her ABC's a few hours earlier had a child of her own?! It
was just unbelievable. I had never imagined that this was her
situation. The Child Protection Center (CPC) takes care and fends for
her son, since she is to young to do so, but she is allowed to see her son, whenever she chooses.
The organization here has created such an environment that if an
outsider who knew nothing about this organization came, they would never guess
what the past of these girls were and just think it's an ordinary
school with dorms for ordinary girls with great lives. They are given
all the facilities, all the resources, and are constantly encouraged
to follow whatever dream they desire. My adorable 13 year old, wants
to be an actress at the moment, and loves to dance, and she is
constantly encouraged by allowing her to take part in small type of
group dances that learn cultural dance and perform in front of small
and large audiences.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Getting there

Currently I'm at Bahrain drinking Arabic frap from Starbucks. I wanted to try and be different but it taste the same as the american caramel frap? Anyways this feels like the longest journey ever and I still have 8 more hours till I touchdown in Nepal. Until now I had just felt like I was saying bye to everyone and going to New York or something for a couple of days....but sitting here drinking my Arabic Frap, it's finally hit me that I AM GOING TO NEPAL!!! Ahhh!
So far I have met a few Nepalis and I am the only one traveling alone...After noticing this, I get a little sense sadness mixed with a bit of pride. Saddness for the obvious reason, cuz I here by myself...talking and mumbling to myself like a crackhead, but pride because i finally feel like I have officially stepped on the first stepping stone to adulthood. Its hard to believe my time has come already to grow up... I feel like it's moving so fast And I'm almost watching myself grow up from afar? Ya? No? Or is it just me going crazy cuz I've been traveling for almost 24 hours and have slept for about 2?
Well, anyways, at the airport here in Bahrain, I met an old friend here and we got to talking about Maiti Nepal... and somehow the conversation steered into love. After talking to him I began thinking about the victims and what their definition of love might be? Have they ever been in love? Have they experienced the same kind of love I have been blessed to experience? Do they even believe in love? To me love is the greatest feeling in the it for them? Or, like my friend asked..."whats love got to do with it?" maybe they don't even emphasize on love the way I do? Their lives and experiences are so different from mine right now that it's so hard for me to even imagine situations in their shoes. I know things will be hard and I'm sure I'll get a culture shock... But i hope by the end of it all I come out stronger and more open minded.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Watching the Documentary

I have been working so much that I had not realized how soon I'll be leaving for Nepal until I came home from work today. As I got home I had all my family there playing cards and my mom reminded me that I had DVR-ed the documentary CNN did on the sex trafficking in Nepal. Watching the documentary truly made me realize how soon I would be leaving, and the reason I am going. After watching the documentary I wanted to start my blog. Since this is the first blog, I wanna take this opportunity to say that I am just writing how I feel as I feel it at the moment. Please disregard my horrible grammar and scattered thoughts. I don't wanna do much editing because I'm afraid that it might,1. Take away from my expressions and emotions as they come to mind 2. I don't know if I will have enough time in the Internet cafe in Nepal to do much editing? and 3. I'm lazy?
I think CNN did a fantastic job on focusing the important factors Nepal is facing with the sex trafficking issue. Though Ms. Koirala is giving her all in this battle, she can only do so much and be at so many places at once. Our time doesn't seem to have a Martin Luther King Jr or a Mother Theresa, but in my eyes Ms. Koirala has definitely been walking towards the direction to be an international hero. As I watch her I can only hope that I am able to one day follow her footsteps and at least make a positive impact on a few lives.
I'm 21 and though I may not have a game plan set on my life, I do know that right now I am very passionate about working with the victims of sex trafficking. I hope to one day open a psych center in Nepal for not only sex trafficked victims but also the mentally ill....but let's see where life takes me...
Ahhhh!!! I am still so awed by how strong the girls and women were shown on the documentary... Watching those girls make you think about your own life and re-evaluate it. Here I am complaining about a rude customer or getting angry at my parents for not getting me the latest phone when these victims have been forced into becoming sex slaves and have been brutally abused by the age of 16.
I'm sure being in Nepal on my own will be an eye opening experience, but before I go to live it and have it change my life, I wanna also take this time I have now being me, enjoying/ appreciating myself the way I am and the way I have been raised.