Uplifting Survivors of Exploitation: Sita’s Story
June 9th, 2023 | Stories
June 9th, 2023 | Stories
In Nepal, World Education and partners identified and provided support to children, adolescents, and youth exploited through the adult entertainment sector. The Utthan (“uplift”) project funded by UNICEF aimed to reduce risk of exploitation and help girls who were exploited receive counseling, vocational training, support to return to school, and support to find safer employment.
979 girls were identified, 514 participated in transferable and life skills training, and 391 received psychosocial counseling. This is the story of one young woman’s journey leaving an exploitative situation and exploring the possibilities for her future.
My name is Sita. I am 19 years old and I was born in the Rukkum District of Nepal. My mum died when I was 5, and my father remarried. I am one of seven girls, and someone from the village brought me and one of my sisters to an orphanage in Pokhara where I completed grade 10. Then, my sister left the home and got married. I’ve always wanted to be independent. I have seen my friends live alone, balancing school and work, and they’re enjoying their lives. After my SEE exam, I left the orphanage and started renting a room with my friend.
With my friend’s help, I got a job in a restaurant working as a waiter. I was completely new to this, and didn’t have any experience. The owner of the restaurant was not happy with my performance, and after 3 months, he told me to stop coming in and didn’t pay me for a month of work. After that, I struggled to pay my rent and fulfill my basic needs.
One of my friends used to visit a drop-in center run by the Child and Women Empowerment Society (CWES), and attend trainings and counseling services. She used to share several new and useful things that she learned with me. I was very curious and excited to visit the center, and while I was working in the restaurant, I met Nilam Miss from CWES. She invited me to the center where I too had the opportunity to take a couple of counseling sessions and participate in a five-day life skills training course. After I lost my job, I was so depressed and worried during this critical time. The life skills training and counseling sessions helped me keep going and encouraged me to explore other options. I started focusing on my goals and enrolled in school. When I was desperately hunting for a job, I realized the importance of education to acquire skills for a good job.
After some time, I got another job in a restaurant with residential facilities. However, long working hours with no days off and morning classes made me so tired and lonely. I don’t remember my father and mother – I only remember my one sister who came with me, but left. My father never came to visit me. I don’t have anyone to share my feelings with and give me guidance. So, CWES provided a mentor for me. My mentor (sister) is very sweet and helpful. I frequently talk with her, sharing my problems.
Even though I am 19 years old, I still don’t have a bank account. Therefore, I’ve kept my money in the restaurant owner’s bank account. My mentor made me realize that I should control my money myself. But to open a bank account I need to have citizenship, and I don’t. Where do I go? What is the process? I was confused. My mentor helped me coordinate with my uncle so I could start the process to get citizenship. I used to be a shy and introverted person, but gradually I have started to raise my voice against abuse and unnecessary work, I am able to distinguish between right and wrong, and I’ve started to love myself. I was lucky to get education support from CWES – my mentor encouraged me to keep studying, provided me with secondhand textbooks, taught me embroidery art for stress management, and helped me look at alternative options for generating income. I am very happy to get connected and get all this support.