Born in a poor family at a remote village in NEPAL-Sita was just another regular mother, working hard to earn her daily bread.
She did not have the privilege of going to school unlike others and neither did she have any idea about the brutal world that thrived outside the four walls of her home.
Her parent’s got her married at the tender age of 14 and since then she had never faced the world on her own, as her husband Chandra was the sole bread owner in the family.
But fate took great turmoil and her life turned upside down when he met up with a severe heart attack and passed away. After his death she had no other choice other than to succumb to the hard blow of life and take responsibility for her 5 year old son and an ill mother-in-law; for their life was at stake.
Sita was force to be strong and she did.
She gave it all and yet it was not enough to support her families’ demand with a growing infant in the house.
Taking advantage of her situation, a crooked dealer in the village turned up at Sita’s door and offered her a nice job at the city, a handsome pay scale, a decent lifestyle for her son and medical attention for her mother-in-law.
He seemed like an angel to her and she gave in instantly only to be tricked and to be drifted apart from her family to the dark-deserted and fathom world of Prostitution. Her pleas were unheard, her tears were overlooked and the stone-hearted animal sold her at a brothel in the city.
Sita’s story is repeated every a day at the outskirts of the Indo-Nepal border where hundreds of helpless girls and women like her are trafficked and sold for the sole purpose of Prostitution. [According to the U.S. State Department, some 10,000 to 15,000 women and girls from NEPAL are trafficked to INDIA each year]
And even though the city boasts of Tall Buildings, emerging technological advancements and high profile lifestyle, beneath the walls at distant villages several Sitas are trafficked under the nose of authorities in the name of Jobs and Education.
Literacy rate being very low and job opportunities almost nil, the families take on the first chance offered to them in the form of decent jobs and volunteer themselves/send their children to the city; only to be fooled and left regretting later on.
The moron thugs always prey on the innocent ones and lure them with over sized dreams and hopes of a better life.
But, amongst all these horrific acts, there was a woman who stood tall, made up a strong will to stop this and fight against it whole heartedly- ANURADHA KORIALA.
We have seen and witnessed that “Life as a woman” is never easy- be it the most sophisticated of Nations or the under developed ones.
This woman herself endured years of abuse, violence in her troubled marriage and yet it did not break her down. After her marriage ended with a divorce, she dedicated her life towards the ultimate goal of offering a helping hand to the victims of Sex Trafficking and Domestic Violence.
A woman of substance- she began her work in 1993 to open a small house; investing her own savings (an amount of $100 she earned a month working as an English Teacher) with few of her colleagues at Kathmandu [the capital city of NEPAL]- for girls and women escaping violence and exploitation.
A house that was built 20 years ago has today become a big community, part of and NGO she founded known widely and vividly as “Maiti Nepal”.
“Maiti”[pronounced as Mai (my) and Ti (as ti in “Tiranga”)], meaning mother’s home is a safe haven for those girls and women who have been rescued from brothels or snatched from traffickers during the daily patrols at crossing points along the India-Nepal border.
While the fortunate ones get to return and reunite with their families and loved ones; the unfortunate left outs- particularly if they are infected with HIV/AIDS– are given shelter at the Maiti Residence and provided with jobs so that they can live their life independently without being socially stigmatized due to their work as Prostitutes.
Anuradha treats each of them as her own child. She weeps for them, wipes their tears and above all gives hope to the shattered minds. They lovingly call her “Didjiu” meaning elder sister.
The so called dealers or employers come in a friendly manner, well-dressed attire and with great promises luring innocent infants, women and families into their trap and sell them as prostitutes and unpaid maids.
Hence, many of the rescued women despite of experiencing all those torture and trauma- dedicate themselves as volunteers and help Anuradha in patrolling the border areas along with other helpers; so that they can recognize and catch hold of the suspects who try to traffic other girls and women. They go out to the villages and run awareness campaigns to educate women and girls about the tricks used by traffickers.
Since 1993, through her organization, Anuradha has helped in rescuing more than 12,000 Nepali girls and prevented 45,000 children and women from being trafficked at the Indian-Nepal border. She has set up shelters across Nepal and her teams have liberated thousands of women from brothels in INDIA and NEPAL.
Working as a rescuer also has its own risks and requires great personal sacrifices. Often due to political connections at highest level in Nepal and India, the Maiti Nepal’s main office in Kathmandu has been destroyed twice and Maiti workers are required to travel with a bodyguard during rescue missions.
A blatant response given by Anuradha when asked about the societies’ reaction towards the rescued victims: “Society rejects me and my girls, but they are the most important thing in my life and I’m proud of each one of them.”
For her unending and heroic effort, Anuradha was voted the “CNN Hero of the Year” in 2010 and appreciated worldwide for her act of bravery.
She is an internationally respected activist and dedicates her life towards the unlooked and rejected women of the society. She says: “I want a society free of human trafficking.”
It’s true that Angels and Demons co-exist in the world; And while people are left complaining about all the bad things happening in our lives, there a selected few angels like Anuradha who come forward and offer comfort, hope, love and proves that “Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance” – Samuel Johnson
When I was watching the “CNN HERO 2010” award function, I was astonished to see this Nepalese lady standing with such a firm determination and yet she was so simple, elegant and clear in her approach.
As she spoke, tears rolled down out of everyone’s eye:
“Just Imagine what would happen if your daughter was standing there. What would you do, how would you fight? So you have to join hands, you have to take each child as your daughter. Soon you will feel their sorrow and then you will feel the strength that comes out of you to protect them.”
My utmost RESPECT and Grand salute to this Wonder Woman- a Benevolent Rescuer.
You simply rock Anuradha Koirala!!
[P.S: Sita, the lady I mentioned at the start is today happily reunited with her son and is working as a volunteer at Maiti Nepal]