Founded in 1937 by two Britons in Spain, Plan International now has offices in 20 countries and manages projects helping children and young people in 50 of the world’s poorest nations. Among other objectives, Plan Nepal was created in 1978 to, among other things, help the large number of girls who are sold by their families to be Kamalari or servants/labourers.
A staggering 40% of Nepalese children live in poverty and an estimated 2 600 000 children aged 5 – 14 work as child labourers. Families in poor areas often have little choice other than to sell their daughters into service, meaning they receive an annual fee for each year the child is ‘employed’. This fee is often as little as US$ 20. Many families are led to believe that their daughters will receive an education, however in most cases this does not happen. The only hope for a Kamalari girl is to be freed, most often by an aid organisation. This often means that the organisation pays the family what the daughter would usually earn.
However, freeing Kamalari girls is not enough. To break the cycle, these girls must be educated. To date, Plan has freed more than 3 000 girls, not only paying their families an allowance, but also providing legal advice, life skills and most importantly, enabling them to return to school. In 2013, 523 Plan-rescued girls returned to regular education, 86 girls completed their final year of high school and a further nine were enrolled in bachelor programmes.
To support Plan International, particularly the “Kamalari Practice Abolition” project in Nepal, ICEF donated €1 035 which financed the cost of higher education for 15 former Kamalari girls for two years.