Ignorance and poverty driving parents in Humla to send their children to children’s homes in Capital40 children were rescued from several children’s homes in Kathmandu and handed over to their families in Humla in the past three months.
Lalita Baduwal of Ripgaun in Humla sent her daughter to Kathmandu a year ago, expecting a good life and better education for the six-year-old. She was approached by an agent who had assured her that he would enroll her daughter in a boarding school and provide her with quality education. Baduwal took a loan of Rs 30,000 from a local moneylender and handed over the amount to the agent.
“After consulting with my family, I decided to send my daughter to Kathmandu. The agent had told us that my daughter would be kept in a legally registered childcare home. We don’t know where they kept her in Kathmandu,” said Baduwal.
Like Baduwal, many families in Humla, a remote district in Karnali Province, have sent their wards to children’s homes, mainly in the Kathmandu valley, hoping their children would get a good education, better facilities and a comfortable life.
However, upon investigation, it was revealed that most of the children were sent to children’s homes with fake documents, said police. Papers were made claiming that the children sent to these homes were helpless and orphans. The guardians were encouraged to do so with a promise of good education for their children.
A few weeks ago, the government authorities and social organisations working for child rights raided several children’s homes in Kathmandu and rescued scores of children. Out of the 10 rescued children, only one child is an orphan.
Kuga Fadera of Ripgaun also sent his 10-year-old daughter to Kathmandu after giving Rs 50,000 to an agent. Believing that her daughter would get quality education and good health care in a children’s home, Kuga made fake documents that claimed that her daughter was an orphan.
“We now know that the children’s home was not good for our daughter. I was overcome with guilt after I came to know that the children were mistreated. I will never trust my child with anybody else now,” Ripgaun said. According to him, the agent demanded Rs 50,000 to provide education up to the secondary level for his daughter.
The children were rescued from a children’s home in Sudal, Bhaktapur, and were handed over to their families in Humla. Around 40 such children from Humla had been rescued and reunited with their families in the past three months, according to officials at the Humla district office.
“Residents of Humla take pride in sending their children to Kathmandu. That is why scores of children are sent to children’s home illegally,” said Dhan Bahadur Lama, the executive director of a social organisation working for children in Humla.
It is suspected that the elected people’s representatives help guardians prepare fake documents verifying their children as orphans and helpless. The people’s representatives, however, refused any wrongdoing.
“Our ward has not recommended a single child to be sent to a children’s home. We don’t know the people responsible behind this scheme,” said Balbir Thapa, chief of Sarkegadh Ward No. 2.
The local administration admits that child trafficking has become a serious challenge in the district lately.
“We have to take action against the guardians to control child trafficking. Children are at high risk of being displaced and trafficked mainly due to the ignorance of their guardians,” said Chief District Officer Binita Bhattarai.
Meanwhile, police detained Kalpana Budha of Sarkegad for investigation. Budha allegedly induced the guardians to send their wards to children’s homes in Kathmandu.