A Little Perspective

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Life Lessons From Nepal: Hope

I've been meaning to share my experience about this particular topic since the moment I got home. But sometimes it just takes time to digest your own thoughts and feelings. As some of you already know, the organization I volunteered with in Nepal primarily focused on providing support to victims of sexual abuse. The opportunity to meet girls and women who had overcome such difficult experiences was something I knew would put me out of my comfort zone. To me, sexual abuse is one of those things that is everywhere and nowhere, because everyone knows someone affected by it but no one talks about it. That's because it is one of the darkest and most hurtful violations against another human that exist, and we need to do everything in our power to stop it.

One of the best things about my time spent at the Raksha shelter was the opportunity I had to get to know the girls there. I didn't really know some of the harder things of their past until the very end of my time there, for which I was extremely grateful. Instead of knowing the girls as victims, I got to know them as human beings, and they are some of the most beautiful human beings I have ever met. These girls are strong, loving, hard-working, determined, talented, kind, responsible, brave, and most of incredible of all, they are full of hope. They want to be doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, and political activists. Each and every one of them has dreams of affecting change for the better in the world they live in, and I believe they will do it. But I want to step back for a moment and tell you what kind of history these amazing girls have come from, because it's the history that makes their present and future so remarkable.

On our last night at the shelter, two of the older girls volunteered to share their stories with us. Without going into too much detail, the first young woman was abused by family members. Later, when she was finally brave enough to talk about it, she endured verbal and emotional abuse from a family who shamed and blamed her for what had happened. No one sought to defend her.

The second young woman was born into an untouchable caste and left to work as something similar to a house slave for many years as a child. One day a man came visited the home and treated her with kindness. He spoke to her as if she were a person instead of a subject beneath him. After he built this bond of trust, he invited her to come work for him where she would receive better pay and treatment. She was still under 14 years old, and accepted his offer. Suddenly she found herself thrown into the world of sex trafficking where she was forced to see as many as 30 men a day. She was trapped and could not foresee a way out of her prison. 

These two stories are not unique, particularly in Nepal. Children are treated as objects to be used and abused all around the world. Despite this, these two stories have happier endings. Both of these young women eventually ended up at Raksha Nepal, a shelter founded by an incredible woman named Menuka Thapa who has made it her mission to fight sexual abuse in her country. These girls found safety and family thanks to Menuka. But there are still more like them, still more children that need help.

In sharing this experience, my hope is to raise awareness and inspire you. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you CAN help fight to end sexual abuse. You can volunteer your time with an organization, you can serve abroaddonate to a cause, or you can simply share on social media to raise awareness. Whatever it is, however small or big it is, it does make a difference. Going to Nepal and meeting so many young women who are thriving after such horrific experiences gave me hope. If these incredible women can continue to hope, so can you and me. 

Hope for a better tomorrow and do everything in your power to make it so.


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