We knew our time in Nepal would be difficult. Our purpose while we were there was to work alongside Effect.org to learn about human trafficking. We were there with about 30 other people from large tech companies like Google and Salesforce. Our first 3 days were out learning about this horrific problem. We visited orphanages, safe houses and half way houses to see and meet with many of the survivors. Effect.org teamed up with various local non-profits to see what they are currently doing and to learn what tools they are lacking in their efforts. The last 3 days were spent doing a hackathon to build products for the cause. We were really excited that our backgrounds in web, tech, design and business could be of use!
When we arrived, we were in another world! Kathmandu is a CRAZY city. Its super big, crowded, quite dirty and there are absolutley no traffic laws. There was livestock walking in the street. When we arrived at the airport, the security confiscated Garrett's drone. We weren't really off to a good start.
We jumped in the very next day learning about the problem.
There were a few things that really hit me hard:
1. 10,000 girls are taken from Nepal each year, brought in to India and sold into the sex trade
2. When I say girls, I mean girls as young as 9 years old!!
3. The girls are not kidnapped, but deceived. They are told that they are going somewhere for a job or business opportunity to help their families. Sometimes they are even deceived by potential relationships or marriages.
4. Traffickers prey on very poor, uneducated villages. They are usually deceived by a family member or close friend.
5. When girls go missing, their families searching for missing girls often do not even have a picture of their daughters.
6. When the girls arrive, they are physically abused, raped and drugged.
7. Within months, most girls contract HIV and they aren’t given the proper medicine.
8. Many girls see over 30 clients per day.
9. The majority of men who attend brothels believe that the girls are there by their own choice
10. If a girl escapes, they are often rejected by their family or community as “damaged goods.”
11. The #1 prevention of human trafficking is education
Our initial response was complete and utter anger. We wanted so badly to go in and hurt every single person that uses these brothers. We couldn’t see how a culture that so highly values that purity of women would have such a backwards, culturally-acceptable activity for men. I was SO mad at Indian men. I felt that I couldn’t trust any man while I was there. I looked at all men and boys as scum.
It was a big transition from being so angry and coming to terms with the fact that we can’t change a whole culture. We can’t stop this all right away. We have to poke holes at the problem and pray that over time, our holes will pop this huge balloon of a problem!
We were very blessed to be in Nepal with such incredible people from Effect.org these tech companies. They were such great examples and incredible innovators. My team worked on a marketing campaign for a child help line called 10-9-8. We were working on building awareness that there is something out there that offers a helping hand. Other teams are working great databases to help track and find missing and recovered girls.
At the end of the week, we were hopeful. We were excited about the things that we had made.
In addition to all of this, we decided to raise money to help build a school in one of these poor areas in India. We are raising $50k to build a school. PLEASE take a few moments to watch our video, learn more about the problem, donate to the cause and share!