Trafficking prevention seminars protecting Nepalese children
“Updates from the Outback” with Tim Daniell, OV International Programs Director
One of the most amazing experiences of my life was trekking through the Himalayas of Nepal, to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain, Everest. Breathtaking!
I never dreamt at that time that I would be back with Orphan Voice just nine months later doing something else I love, helping to build strong families and see vulnerable children protected and thriving.
During this visit to Nepal in May 2019, I was able to help facilitate a training with our project partner to prepare for a new project Orphan Voice will begin to support to build strong families for orphaned and vulnerable children. One of my other priorities was to see firsthand a project Orphan Voice is already supporting, which is building greater awareness with vulnerable children to prevent trafficking and abuse.
Tragically and ironically, in a land of such exquisite beauty, child abuse and trafficking are destroying many precious young lives. A UNICEF report from 2017 states that around 12,000 female children and women are trafficked out of Nepal every year! Possibly many more go undetected, and some never return. That is a tragedy hard for many of us to comprehend.
Orphan Voice’s mission is to “be conduits whereby God’s love holistically transforms families and communities in conformity with His justice.” That is what we are in Nepal to do. We want to see the exploitation of children and women come to an end and His justice prevail. In a country like Nepal where many children are not aware of their rights and the dangers they face, or where to go to get help and speak out, Orphan Voice aims to give them a voice and build greater awareness.
In April 2019, Orphan Voice began an exciting new project and partnership with a wonderful local Christian organization, to broadcast child safety awareness campaigns on national television across Nepal. We are also supporting awareness raising trainings at schools, churches and clubs. In total, we are aiming to reach 120,000 children and youth with this vital message in just one year.
In May, I was able to attend one of these awareness trainings that Orphan Voice is supporting and was so impressed. Children learned about “Good Touch and Bad Touch” from a big fluffy dog mascot named Khush. They also learned about their rights to safety and memorized the national help-line number to call if they feel unsafe and need assistance. The children watched an excellent child-trafficking video locally produced by our project partner with support from Orphan Voice. And to top it all off, the children had a lot of fun singing action songs about God’s amazing love for them and received nutritional snacks before they returned home. I felt so blessed that Orphan Voice can be a part of this ongoing initiative and grateful to our project partner and many faithful donor partners who help to make this all possible.
After attending the awareness raising event, 17 year old Devina had memorized the help-line number and shared with me some of what she had learned. She said, “Today, I learned that if anybody touches our body and it makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe, that is not right and is a crime. It is important for us to be safe and if we don’t feel safe, we need to tell someone who we trust and get help. I need to share this message about child safety with my friends and in my community.”
The statistics relating to child trafficking in Nepal and around the world are heart-breaking. However, I am encouraged to see what Orphan Voice and our project partner in Nepal is doing to help prevent the abuse and trafficking of children like Devina.
Through your prayers and support, you are helping us reach our goal of sharing this important child safety and anti-trafficking message with 120,000 Nepali children this year, and hopefully many more in the years to come. On behalf of Devina and thousands of children like her, thank you for making Nepal a safer place for them to live.
Caroline Mrowiec, Orphan Voice’s Hope Therapy Center
This is my little buddy, Tan. He has been coming to the center for almost a year now. Tan has ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and behavioral issues. If only we could find a way to harness his activeness, we could solve the energy crisis. The first time I met Tan and his mother, Tan was running wild through the house and his mother cried and begged us to accept Tan to the therapy center. Tan’s father passed away a few years ago, and I believe some of Tan’s issues stem from this. One session, his mom told us that during the previous night, Tan had woken her up and asked her, “Did my father really die? Please don’t leave me.”
Tan used to have good and bad days, emphasis on the bad. Now it is the opposite. A recent achievement for Tan is that he has consistently been brushing his teeth in the morning instead of having a temper tantrum like he used to. He also used to use any place in his home as a toilet, but we have finally transitioned him out of this free-spirited lifestyle.
Tan has been enjoying the new toys at the center which my Aunt Kimi donated.
My aunt and cousin came to visit me in April and they spent a day of their vacation helping me at the center, as well as giving us some new toys and equipment for the kids.
One game they brought- Hungry Hippos- has topped the center’s popular toy chart and is the number one requested item at the center. It is especially a favorite with our children with behavioral issues, and more than one game I have played with them has ended in a fist fight. I am trying to tone down my competitiveness though and I keep telling myself that the only real loser is a bad sport. Keep in mind that I did grow up with a brother (who shall remain nameless), who used to flip the game board at strategic moments when a loss was inevitable for him.
Speaking of Miles, he has developed a communication app for me to use with my nonverbal clients. I bullied him into doing this for his senior project at college. It has been a lot of hard work (for Miles) but with no regrets (I don’t have any). In the US, children who cannot verbally communicate often use some sort of augmentative communication device. This can be in various forms, depending on the child’s abilities, but often times, it is an ipad with a downloaded communication app, allowing the child to select pictures, phrases, or words to let others know what they are thinking.
Many of our families have a smartphone, which means they could download an app to use with their child at home. However, I was unable to find a communication app in Vietnamese, so that is where Miles stepped in (rather willingly, as if he had an option to do otherwise).
We have been trialing the app with an 8-year-old boy at the center named Phu.
Look at this angel face- you would never know that he is capable of doing anything wrong, but he does dabble a bit in bad behaviors. Phu understands Vietnamese, but he is unable to speak because of his physical disabilities. He can yell though, and he used to yell until he got what he wanted. The volume of his yelling was only rivaled by its frequency. We have been able to phase out this behavior for the most part though, by replacing it with sign language and the communication app. There has also been a downturn in his behaviors of spitting and hitting others.
Tai, pictured below, also looks angelic but in his case, looks are not deceiving; he is a super sweet 18-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
When I first met him, Tai showed me how he can use an ipad with his foot and pick up items with his toes. We have been working on the skills needed to pull his pants up and down. He can now manage his clothing during toileting, and does not need his mom to help him go to the bathroom anymore.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Go Cubs!