The sisters at the Everest Base Camp
Bangalore Mirror Bureau |
By Ananya Kashyap
To the uninitiated, human trafficking is a growing problem in India and its neighbouring countries. There is a long list of people and organisations working towards curbing this, and rightly so. Add two girls - aged 12 and 13 - to this list, and the plot gets curiouser and curiouser, given that children and women are the biggest victims of trafficking. But when one is told that Venya and Gauri, siblings who study in an international school in Bengaluru, managed to raise funds to the tune of $5,000 to the cause of rescuing and rehabilitating trafficked women in Nepal, you read, intently.
During their trip to Nepal two years ago, there was a landslide and the girls saw many trafficking agents trying to smuggle children and women who were left vulnerable after losing homes and families. The incident was a clarion call to action and, ever since, the girls have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about trafficking.
They got in touch with Maiti Nepal, an NGO that was started by Anuradha Koirala almost 25 years ago. Maiti Nepal helps victims of sex trafficking. It also operates a rehabilitation home in Kathmandu, as well as transit homes at the Indo-Nepal border.
On March 25 this year, the two sisters started raising funds for Maiti Nepal. Through a crowdfunding website, the girls raised $5,000. Then, Venya and Gauri, along with their parents, left for Katmandu on April 7. They started their trek on April 9. After nine days of gruelling climb, they reached the base camp on April 17. All along, they carried the banner with them. They even spent 45 minutes at the base camp.
On April 20, they visited Maiti Nepal and spent time with the rescued women and children. Venya says they learned a lot about trafficking at Maiti Nepal. "She told us that gender imbalance and the general preference for male children in this part of the world were the main reasons for trafficking. Many rural families keep the girls at home without educating them as they find no benefit in sending them to school," Venya said. "Agents mostly approach such families and promise jobs for the girls in India and the Middle East."
The girls said meeting orphans and abused women and children - some with burn marks and broken bones - at the NGO left a lasting impression in their minds.
Bengaluru is one of the hotspots for trafficking due to the high amount of money and demand. And the two sisters now intend to connect with other organisations in Beng-aluru and raise awareness about the issue.
Their father, Vinay Chandra, a software engineer, said they prepared for almost 2-3 months for the trek. "The girls were well prepared as they are athletes themselves. My wife and I needed a lot more preparation," he said.
Maiti Nepal's Koirala plans to come to India for a seminar on the awareness of trafficked women, Venya informed.