ITEM girl – Fridays for Future – plastic bottles instead of school fee

Since 2016, my husband and I have built up three schools for children from the lowest caste (80% of them are girls), trying to protect girls from being sold to brothels through education and thereby form the base for a life worthy to live. We call it the “silent revolution of the girls”. Educated women pass education on to their daughters. Thus, it will lead to a domino effect and complete in better living conditions of the lowest caste.

“Girl trafficking is one of the most prevalent and critical problems of Nepal. It has spread rapidly in remote areas where people are uneducated, ignorant and poor. There are countless girls in Nepal who are facing trafficking. It is increasing day by day. They are trafficked and left at the brothel where they are compelled to act as prostitutes. Traffickers in Nepal mostly sell the girls in India. Estimated 20,000 girls are sold every year. From rural areas, illiterate girls, who are suffering from poverty, are brought to cities by brokers who act like they have good jobs for them. The girls who are sold in prostitution houses come back to Nepal being HIV infected. They pass on HIV to other youths in Nepal. Some girls who are victimized and infected with HIV are sent back to Nepal empty handed. They are not accepted by their family or society. They are ignored and hated.”[1]

FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE: In Nepal they have a giant problem with trash. Especially plastic is carelessly thrown away everywhere and plastic bottles are used as heating fuel by the outcastes. In the cities, smog can be found every day and almost daily the warning level “RED” will be proclaimed (stages above the risk level can lead to dangerous health problems). After long and intense efforts, we have managed to find two companies, which support our schools ecologically and help us with our approach to change the people’s attitude towards that topic. From one company, we received solar panels that have been providing warm water to our slum school since January 2019. Furthermore, ten plastic shredding machines are presently being produced in Austria. These machines will be placed in our schools as soon as they are ready. Our pupils will be given the task to collect plastic trash and to bring it back to the schools. There, mothers from slum or prison will be employed to put the plastic waste into the shredding machine. Afterwards, the shredder material will be sold to India, where a high demand can already be found.
Instead of paying school fee, kids will collect plastic trash.

Our projects in Nepal since 2016…

Agricultural school in Pokhara (bamboo school): about 550 children (80% girls) have the possibility to attend this school. This school, we could already let free to their independence. The teachers are paid by the school fee of one Dollar a month per child.

Prisonschool in Birgunj: in this school, we host about 50 children from imprisoned mothers. These women serve their time in one of the worst jails. The highlight of their children is our school, where they can flee from their sadness and cruelty of prison for 8 hours a day.
Furthermore, we admitted to our school about 100 children who live with their parents (usually mothers) on the street or in corrugated-iron huts. In this way, we protect them from being sold or abducted.
The school was built inside the prison area. Birgunj is located right next to the Indian border and is a hotspot of human trafficking. This is another reason, why we built up our two schools (prison and slum school) in this area.

Slumschool in Birgunj: This school was built in January 2019 and is in a slum for outcaste people. Meanwhile, we have admitted about 25 children of preschool age and 30 first-graders. In April 2020, we will open a second class – here, 30 more children will get the chance to attend school.
In this school, our kids from the slum receive education, meals, medicine, uniform and their own pair of shoes. 80% of the children are girls. They are the most endangered to be sold by their parents to human traffickers for prostitution in India as a result of the family’s poverty. That’s the reason why we care about the girls’ education that much and primarily try to admit girls to our school.
Also here, we see it as our duty to protect the children from violence in their families. Most of our girls already made experience with rape in their own family.
Once a month, we also call the mothers of our kids to our school where we give them the chance to wash themselves and pick up hygiene products. All mothers are illiterates (non-readers/writers).

Leprosy village (close to slum school): with 140 inhabitants (30 of them are children); What we saw and experienced there, I cannot, and I even don’t want to describe – there are no words for that. The only help for these people who must live in a ghetto because of their leprosy disease is our monthly contribution with hygiene products, clothes and shoes.

As godparents, we are responsible for everything every month, like schoolbooks, warm meals, uniforms, shoes, teachers’ salary and medication. Because of their school education, girls get additional value for their parents and form a protective factor when family members get older. Every girl who we can save from child trafficking is a very great success for us. Furthermore, we include the mothers into our education program by informing them about the methods of child traffickers. Additionally, we give them the possibility to take a shower in our slum school. They receive hygiene products, soap, shampoo and toothbrush. After long negotiations, we finally managed that also imprisoned mothers monthly have been receiving hygiene articles and sanitary pads since December 2019. We also provide them a doctor and medicine. The women and their kids are often abused or raped in prison. Most of the kids in our prison school (about 165 children) and in our slum school (right now 56 children) have already been sexually abused. We try to educate the children and provide protection through full-time school attendance. The abortion rate in Nepal within women from the lowest caste is very high. As they cannot afford it to see a doctor, they do it by themselves and mostly die because of the results. Women have never been sexually educated – also that is what we do at our slum school. Talks about birth control are given by our volunteers. Since January 2019, young women (students) from Austria regularly work at our prison and slum school in Nepal.

Brigitte and Heinz

[1] Cf. Trafficking of Girls in Nepal (24.4.2019) in Accessed in Dezember 2019