Nepalese football academy rescues street children

Nepalese football academy rescues street children
31 May 2008 01:18
Three years ago, Mahendra BK was a 12-year-old boy living on the street in Pokhara, a middle-sized Nepalese town with a population of about 200 000. His mother died when he was still an infant and his alcoholic father died of tuberculosis when Mahendra was only eight.

Mahendra lived in extreme poverty with his sister and grandmother for about a year. At the age of nine, he left them and ended up in Kathmandu, the capital, where he was living a high-risk life on the street, collecting garbage and selling it for petty cash to recycling factories.

Mahendra’s story is all too common among children in Nepal where, according to the local NGO Child Workers in Nepal, an estimated 5 000 children live on the streets without a family.

But Mahendra BK (a two-letter family name is common in Nepal) was lucky. Today, he is one of just more than 20 boys in the Sahara Football Academy in Pokhara. Sahara (the Nepalese word for "support") is a social welfare organisation that provides street children with lodging, food, education and something to do — playing football.

Mahendra is the goalkeeper in the Sahara team, and he explains that joining the football academy has changed his life and given him hope for the future.

"When I was living on the street, I was sleeping under empty rice sacks in many different places. The police used to come around and chase me away. So I was really happy to come to Sahara. Here, we practise football every day and I hope that one day I will be good enough to become an international footballer … like Oliver Kahn, my favourite player," he says.

Of course, not all of the 20 boys will be able to make a living by playing football.

"I think that perhaps five of the boys we have here possess the talent to go on to play in the Nepalese A division and on the national team in the future," says Keshab Bahadur Thapa, Sahara general secretary. "Even if they go on to play professional football, they can’t expect to become rich that way. There isn’t very much money in Nepalese football right now, but it is slowly getting better."

That is why the club also tries to provide vocational training for the boys when they turn 16 years old. After that age, the club helps them establish their own life outside the academy.

"Firstly, we try to place them in other football clubs where they will receive a small salary, but we also give them training as mechanics, electricians, plumbers and carpenters," Thapa explains.

While the academy was established as a regular football club in 1998 by members of the local community, the idea for social work and the combined orphanage and football academy developed later. In 2004, the club was made a reality, largely through the inspiration and fund-raising of Nepali expatriates such as Navin Gurung who lives in the United Kingdom.

Gurung relates: "I was already involved in organising sports events in the UK. One day a friend told me about the activities of the Sahara club and I was really touched. From there the connection started. Now many of my personal friends, Nepalese acquaintances and business connections have all assisted me in organising various fund-raising programmes to support the valuable work that Sahara is doing."

In addition to funds raised abroad, the Sahara club also receives money from the local business community in Pokhara and through ticket sales at the tournaments it arranges every year.

The Sahara club isn’t the only home for orphans and street children in Nepal. Indeed, there are many such homes. But the quality of the Nepalese orphanages varies a lot and they often lack proper management.

The United Nations Children’s Fund spokesperson in Nepal, Rosanne Vega, says: "Since there is no proper monitoring of orphanages, the quality and conditions for the children vary a lot. Almost anybody can start an orphanage here, including people completely lacking experience in this field."

Indeed, it is common for street children to stay in an orphanage for a while but then run away and end up on the street again, as the conditions in some of the orphanages are even worse than living rough.

Rajesh Thakuri, aged 11, is one of the many street children in Kathmandu. He was staying in an orphanage but ran away because, as he says, "They didn’t like me. They hated me there!" He now sleeps on the street and begs for money outside a hospital.

Another street boy, 12-year-old Raivi, has lived on the streets for the past two years. He is a rag-picker, going through other people’s garbage and collecting glass, metal, paper and plastic that he can sell to recycling factories.

Raivi sleeps every night in relative safety in the no-man’s-land behind the airport perimeter fence. Every morning he goes around town and searches the garbage piles before the sun heats them up and makes them too smelly.

According to International Labour Organisation statistics, the thousands of rag-picking children in Nepal work an average of six hours a day, making about 87 rupees a day — just short of €1. But living on the street, there is always the risk of losing the day’s wage to gangs, junkies, bigger boys or even police officers.

At Sahara, staff say, with some pride, that in the three years since the academy started not one child has run away.

The children’s programme in the academy usually starts at 5am when they get up and have a snack before taking a five-minute walk to the local stadium, where they have two hours of football training. Then it’s back to the hostel for breakfast and school.

When school is out in the afternoon, they again practise football for an hour or two before doing their homework. The two assistant trainers in Sahara work as tutors and help the boys with their studies.

In the evening, after dinner, they sometimes watch English Premier League football on TV, wash their clothes or play in the garden across the street. They don’t really have toys, so they just play with whatever they can find, as is normal for Nepalese children. Once a month, they play friendly football matches against some of the local school teams.

Although the dormitory at Sahara is crowded and the facilities a bit rudimentary, there is little else that the boys really need here. They have good food and warm beds, form strong friendships and there is always an adult around to help them with their problems.

The goalkeeper, Mahendra, expresses a single wish: "I would like to have a pair of goalkeeper’s gloves for the winter football training."


Nepal to rehabilitate street children within 5 years

Nepal to rehabilitate street children within 5 years
08:34, March 24, 2008
The Nepali government is to work out a national master plan to rehabilitate street children, Nepali national news agency RSS reported Sunday.

A Central Children’s Welfare Committee has prepared a draft of the national master plan to stop the children from coming to streets and rehabilitation of street children across the country in the next five years, according to the report.

The committee is a statutory body created by the Children’s Act(1992), under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. It is charged with the overall responsibility to ensure realization of the rights of the children of Nepal by the state collaborating with civil society as well as national and international development organizations. It has overall responsibility to look after children’s issues.

The master plan incorporates the identifying of the street children, their data, the cause of their coming to the street and rehabilitation and coordination among organizations, said Executive Director of the Committee Dharma Raj Shrestha.

It proposes keeping children under 14 in their respective families and those without families in children’s homes and giving training to those above 14 years old, Shrestha said.

The children should not be allowed to come to the street and those in the street should be scrutinized, for which a mechanism should be developed, said Saath Saath Executive Director Biswo Bajracharya on Sunday.

Children are coming to street since the ten-year long conflict in the past, family feud, social circumstances and bad company.

At present, there is no actual data of street children in Nepal and in Kathmandu valley with any institution.


Focusing on children in need

Focusing on children in need
By Michael Althouse, The Placer Herald

Lawrence Brown stands with a homeless child in Nepal. Brown has been helping homeless children in Nepal since he retired in 2005.

Some people retire more quickly than others, and some never do quite get the hang of it.

Lawrence Brown began teaching in Rocklin in 1965 when there were just two schools in the district. In 1999, he retired – sort of.

“I basically retired in 1999. It never occurred to me to teach again,” Brown said. “By a strange fluke, I was drawn into subbing. I initially didn’t want that, but I went for two days and enjoyed it.”

After a year of substituting and four more years helping with the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, Brown finally called it quits in 2005.

But Brown found he needed to find new things to do to fill his idle time. After devoting his professional life as well as his personal life to children (he and his wife of 46 years have two daughters, two granddaughters and hosted six foreign exchange students, each for one year), Brown decided to join an international pen-pal club.

Little did he know that a friendship developed with a man in Nepal would once again focus his attention on children in need, this time half a world away.

After writing back and forth for about a year, Brown established a friendship with Birendra (Krishna) Dahal, a married father of two in Katmandu, Nepal. In 2006, Brown visited Nepal, hosted by his new friend.

Upon his arrival, Brown became aware of the “street children” of Nepal, specifically in the Katmandu Valley.

“As a teacher, it was an intolerable situation,” he said.

According to UNICEF, the number of street children in Nepal, estimated at 5,000 in 1992, has “grown very rapidly because of the People’s War, increasing disintegration, civil unrest and growing urbanization.” In 1997, there were an estimated 30,000 such children and Brown said the number is increasing at an alarming pace.

“I just had to do something about it,” he said.

That something was the formation of an organization known as Protego-Nepal. The group consists of five “concerned Nepalese citizens and a retired American educator,” with Brown’s friend Dahal serving as managing director.

The organization’s goal is to provide shelter to the street children, some of whom are as young as 3. The children are drawn toward crime, drug use and are exploited as cheap child labor.

“In Nepal, we have a problem of the way these children are seen by society,” Dahal said. “We have been trying to work on changing this concept of street kids being non-people. We have worked with groups like Rotary International and a few government officials, but it is a hard thing to change people’s mind.”

Protego-Nepal is raising funds to establish a safe-house for these children where they can get off the street and be protected from various kinds of abuses and exploitations.

“Funding is the main problem now. We are ready to move, but although people are taken with our ideas for a self-sustaining safe-house, there has been little financial help from Nepal, the U.S., or any other organization,” he said.

According to both Dahal and Brown, unsuccessful efforts have been made to solicit help from many charitable organizations including the high-profile operations of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Gear, among others.

“There is no help from the Nepalese government,” Dahal said. “It is hoped that if we get established eventually there will be some assistance from them.”

Brown’s goal is to collect $40,000 in the next year to get the whole program started.

He said that in five years he will have a self-sustaining element going and can turn outward.

“This is a new concept,” Brown said. “Nobody is doing it. We have the advising resources to get it started, we just need the start-up money.”

Currently, Protego-Nepal is trying to change the attitude of the Nepalese people toward the street children.

“That’s a hard nut to sell. Civil war has destroyed the family infrastructure in the countryside and is forcing these kids into the cities,” Brown said. “We are trying to get our video out on TV. Without funds, any organization is dead in the water.”

Due to the expense involved, Protego-Nepal has not yet gained its non-profit status, but Brown said “a church in Loomis said, ‘Yes, we will take you under our wing,’ and people can donate to get the tax status they need. It is the Loomis Basin Congregational United Church of Christ.”

“If it helps one kid in Nepal it is worth it,” Brown said. “If it helps 10, well miracles do happen.”

So much for retirement.

Glue, a Cheap Substitute for Intoxication

Glue, a Cheap Substitute for Intoxication
OhmyNews reports from the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal
Mani Man Singh Rajbhandari (mannie)         
    Published 2008-01-30 09:59 (KST)   
The day is sunny in Kathmandu. It’s a rushed day for pedestrians hustling through the city’s narrow footpaths. Here, people pass by many unusual behaviors, which often go unobserved. Unnoticed by most, there is a group of youngsters below adolescent age wandering around the streets of Kathmandu, blowing and inhaling constantly into a plastic bag. Many adults feel pity for them, so as they pass by give them friendly, and unknowing, grins.

For many these youngsters are street children with no shelter, no healthy food and no proper clothing who, with this plastic bag they stick in their noses and mouths, have merely found something to play with in order to pass the time. They are not so different from rich children playing with any toy – the only disparity being that these children depend on the rags littered on the streets for their playthings.

Those who might think these street kids are ignorant are wrong. They are actually inventors – innovators of a cheap substitute for intoxication, which is easily available in the market, sold in both drug stores and hardware stores. It is none other than a sticky adhesive gluten substance commonly known as dendrite solution.

If you happen to be in a car in Kathmandu waiting for a red light, don’t be amazed to witness the street children congregating around your car begging for money with a plastic bag in hand. These bags, usually filled with gluten, might look like a harmless, playful thing to us – but it is cheap and extremely harmful substitute for getting high and intoxicated.

The scene I encountered when I saw some middle class teenagers under the influence of this cheap substitute was a devastating one to me. Unknown to my presence, these teenagers had slipped into the once famous school campus of the Durbar School. Behind an old, monumental building, I saw some other youths enjoying a cricket game. They seemed to be not at all bothered by the rowdy acts of these teenagers inhaling gluten on the other side of the wall.

It was a delightful moment to see the children enjoying their cricket game. At the same time it was a distressful moment, as I simultaneously watched the other kids inhale toxic vapor from a bag.

I wondered about whether educational institutions like this school should have restrictions for outsiders after school hours. If such restrictions to enter the school campus were made, one might ask, then where would playful innocent children go to enjoy a game of cricket? It is a good question, but we must realize that situations of such lenient authority and liberty at schools may create situations like this, of open drug use. The open schoolyard can become a meeting place for drug aficionados. School authorities should be aware of these problems and act promptly to bring an end to these kinds of scenarios, or else face potentially devastating consequences.

The glue sniffing by these young boys can be seen in popular areas of Kathmandu, in prime junctions where people like to shop, eat and roam. Often people are followed by the street children as they come out from fast food restaurants. The misconception in judging these young boys as helpless is itself a sort of ignorance on the part of those who throw them coins, who do so thinking that they are helping them. This small offering instead becomes an encouragement for boys to buy further tins of gluten solution.

Another scene I encountered was when I was walking the street of Bagbazar. I saw three lads walking and inhaling from a plastic bag. I noticed that one lad was using a transparent plastic with the adhesive solution inside, inhaling deeply, and repeatedly massaging the substances in the plastic bag. Their attitude was casual, as though they thought people wouldn’t realize what they were doing. I looked around to see any bystander reaction, but there wasn’t a painful glimpse on the part of anyone. As for myself, I didn’t dare to act but passed on a stare of dislike, expecting that they would become aware of such a public display. This is something I would have thought anyone would do under such circumstances.

Don’t be astonished if you come across these youngsters under the influence of this cheap substitute of inhaling adhesive solution from a plastic bag. These activities can be seen in many places around the capital; it is, however, being ignored by most. As for those who are aware of it, I believe that they do try to act to stop these activities and protect these misguided children. However, such individual efforts may not work, and even the motto ‘Say No to Drugs’ cannot be depended on on its own to stop teenagers from sniffing glue. Rather, a collaborative effort to prevent drug abuse is necessary or else we might some day in the future see many youngsters under the influence of this cheap substitute for intoxication.
©2008 OhmyNews

Thamel’s Lost Innocence

Kathmandu’s tourist ghetto is a snakes and ladders game



In the day your plane lands at Kathmandu airport and an obnoxious taxi driver in an antique car charges you a fortune to dump you in the middle of its urban chaos, you quickly learn to navigate Thamel.

It’s like snakes and ladders. Whatever your destination, and however close, a series of obstacles will hold you up. You have to walk very briskly, look down and skirt teeming humanity. There are the drug dealers offering you pot, fruit vendors with their one-dollar-a-piece apples, rickshaw drivers, touts who pretend you’ve met before and try to talk you into going on a trek with their agencies.

Each time you hesitate and stop, you slip back a few squares. Then there are the ragged ladies shaking empty baby bottles, the kids begging for biscuits, the guy with the mini-chess set, tiger balm, flutes, sarangis. If you are scared of reptiles, then you might also have to cross the road to avoid walking next to a snake charmer petting a two-metre python.

But all that is Thamel for beginners. Once you’ve learned a few tricks, dodging the hurdles are a piece of cake. That usually happens when you return to the capital from your trek in the mountains. First, you will be able to wrench your eyes away from the potholes and multitude of wheels racing in all directions, threatening to amputate your feet. You will start noticing the souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants that you had previously ignored, choosing to dive into the closest bakery before rushing back to your guesthouse, all limbs intact. Finally slumped on a soft cushion in front of a sizzling steak with pommes frites, you’ll observe the ecstatic, slightly daft smile on the faces of emaciated fellow trekkers returning from a three-week diet of muesli bars, instant noodles and dal bhat.

That’s when Thamel becomes a culinary Shangri-La where you’ll be flabbergasted to find apple strudel that challenges its Viennese counterpart, pizza that tastes exactly like in Rome and better hummus than in Casablanca. In your memories, Kathmandu is bound to become the place where you had the best food ever. As in Pavlov’s experiment, the word Thamel will trigger a conditioned reflex that will make your mouth water.

But there is also an advanced Thamel, which needs to be read between the lines, examined against the light like a watermark. It’s one the vast majority of tourists never get to see, even though they are walking in the midst of it every day. It’s the Thamel of mushrooming massage parlours and dance clubs where prostitution is rife, of street children sniffing glue out of small plastic bags, of young pimps in search of western ustomers for a snotty bunch, and of pre-teen boys wearily trotting along.

There’s a few Nepali men staggering in the middle of the road, staring into the void, their bodies and minds devastated by brown sugar. And finally there are scores of kind-hearted travellers who, despite the clear directions given by the Lonely Planet, buy street kids and beggars something to eat or a little present, perhaps ignoring that most of the time things will be returned to the shops or sold on to someone else to raise some cash.

If you observe people on the main Thamel road from a first-floor bar, you will see some of these happening at any given time. “Thamel is killing itself,” says a long-time resident. “Will tourists really want to come to a place like this?”

Maybe they will. Two attractive young girls in bright saris get off a taxi on the street below. They walk quickly into a massage shop. 

Congestion in Thamel is a sign of a tourism rebound, but not everyone is happy

Touts and beggars, coupled with congested traffic make navigating in Thamel a challenge in itself. During peak hours, walking the 100m stretch into Thamel can take up to 10 minutes. Yet, businesses at Thamel go on as usual.

Prakash Karmacharya of Typical Handloom Weavers, a fabric exporter, says there hasn’t been any noticeable change in his business in the past five years despite the worsening congestion.

Sales in some stores have even picked up. The Paper Park, which sells handmade stationery goods, has seen business boom in the past year. “It seems that political instability creates more problems than traffic,” says Bhupal Raj, who runs the store.

Businesses in Thamel took a dive after Nepal’s tourism collapsed when the conflict intensified in 2001. But with things now on the rebound, Thamel is bustling again. And for many in Thamel the congestion itself is a sign that business is picking up.
But tourism officials and Thamel hotel owners realise that Kathmandu’s tourist hub may be the victim of its own success. The Thamel Tourism Development Council is liaising with business owners and entrepreneurs to improve traffic and chase out touts.

Thamel’s new traffic regulations include issuing special passes to vehicles, such as those belonging to hotels, which will allow them to enter areas cordoned off by security guards. This month, the council will be setting up roadblocks to test the feasibility of the plan.

“Traffic here is crazy, cars are bumper to bumper,” says Korean backpacker Kim Seung Wook who has been grazed several times by side mirrors of whizzing motorcycles. Kim has even been spat upon by storeowners whom he rejects.

Other tourists buttonholed outside Kathmandu Guest House agreed. “It’s not a relaxing place,” says Sjors and Herman, both from Holland, who have been in Nepal for two months. On one side of the road, drug dealers whisper their wares. On the other side, street children beg for money.

Most tourists interviewed said that they did not respond to the children’s pleas. “We choose to ignore them because we are aware that there are shelters available, and these children had been given a choice for a better life,” says Herman.

Storeowners in Thame
l sympathise with the tourists and are determined to clean up the area’s image. “The touts, beggars and children leave a bad impression on visitors,” admits Richa Maharjan of Pilgrims Book House.

Once the Council’s plans go into effect, vehicles will not be the only ones experiencing limited access. Mobile fruit-sellers will be given passes and will only be allowed to sell at allocated places.

“We are also hoping to keep away the street children through these barriers,” says Namgyal Lama, who heads the Council. Lama expects a more pleasant Thamel where pedestrians can walk without fear of being hit by motorcycles and harassed by beggars. The shops and cafes would benefit as more people are attracted by the ambience.

But when that happens, some say, the fun will be gone. Thamel just won’t be Thamel without its chaotic streets.

Wong Shu Yun, Sheere Ng

Street Kids and their addiction

We can see lots of street kids basically homeless children roaming in our city. These kids stay in groups. They come to city in search of better life as most of them come from remote areas of Nepal. The places from where they come have less opportunity. The other reason they come to city is because they are driven out form their house by their step mother or some other family related problems. After they reach the city many try to get work, the lucky ones get jobs at tea shops as a helper, as bus or tempo or micro bus conductors and luckier one are kept as a house workers and helpers.

What about the unlucky ones?

The unlucky ones are forced to sleep on the street, run towards dumping site to collect plastic, glass bottles which they collect and sale to scrap shop to earn some money and kill their hunger. They are not always lucky enough to make money out of such dumps to kill their hunger. They are forced to beg or get into pick pocketing. Sometimes, they fight among each other and steal friends’ money but still they are seen together walking around corners of Kathmandu’s streets. We can even see them begging, especially with the tourist as they know most of Nepalese people won’t give them a single paisa.

Now-a-days, we can see that these street kids have developed a new kind of addiction. Their addiction is towards the odor that comes from some adhesive which are mostly used in making leather shoes. In Nepal they are commonly known as “Dendrite” by the name of the company that produces them.

These adhesive are synthetic rubber which is a combination of Aromatic and Aliphatic Solvent with a strong odor. They are highly flammable too.


Boys with adhesive in miniral water bottle and a plastic bag

I met few such kids and questioned them why they want to take such smell of adhesive. They simply replied me that it gives them pleasure. They get stoned with suck odor; they get relief from their hunger, pain and other unpleasant things they come across in their daily life.I don’t know what kind of pleasure they get from such odor of adhesive nor do I have any idea what impact such odor will create in their health.

One question that comes in my mind is who taught them to take such odor and get pleasure or get stoned? How did they learn all about such addiction?


Do you think they are worried about their future?

These street kids are also part of our society; they don’t have good guidance of their parents or elders that is why they are forced to live such a poor very low standard life. What I think is every person is born with his/her own specialty with which he/she can contribute something good for this society. So it will be our great contribution to the society if we can help these kids to get rid of such bad habits, give them proper guidance and some formal vocational training or even if they are interested to study then good education to them so that they can work and earn on their own with their heads up. I am sure they have some potential to contribute to the society and help in the progress of nation.

Updated on December 27, 2007

Fact Sheet on Glue Sniffing Among Street Children in Nepal 

  • According to CWIN estimation there are 5000 street children in Nepal and around 400 – 600 are based in the Kathmandu Valley.
  • CWIN Research on Alcohol and Drug Use among Street Children in Nepal, 2001 has shown that between 25 and 90 per cent of street children use substance of one kind or other.
  • Glue sniffing is relatively new trend in Nepal. It is fast becoming an addiction among street children in Kathmandu. The current prevalent of glue sniffing is 51.7% among street children in the Kathmandu Valley. 19.7% have started using glue two years ago, 34.4 % started a year ago and 27.9% started just few months back.
  • Glue sniffing is taken as a ‘debut’ drug by street children. Mostly street children begin drug-taking by glue sniffing and end up on other, more hard-core, drugs.
  • Street children, who do not even smoke or drink alcohol often sniff glue.
  • In general, the main short-term effects reported by the responding children were hallucinations. Its ill effects have resulted in problematic behavior, self-destruction due to hallucinations and fighting amongst friends.
  • The reasons given by the users for sniffing were low self-esteem, an inferiority complex and having enough pocket money to buy this substance.
  • Children also use glue because it is cheap and easily available.
  • Most of the harmful effects of Glue Sniffing are found to be related to the brain and the Nervous System. 63.9 % have reported one or other kind of illness as long term effects of glue sniffing.
  • Even among non-users almost all the children knew about glue sniffing. In the group of non-users a majority (85%) have seen their friends sniffing glue.
  • Glue sniffing can be termed as ‘group activity’ among street children. 95.1% children use glue with friends. 77% use glue in peer influence and 60.7% children sniff glue daily.

(Source: CWIN Survey on Glue Sniffing Among Street Children in the Kathmandu Valley, 2002)

Child Labour Movement In Nepal

Child Labour Movement In Nepal   [ 2007-12-16 ]

Bijaya Sainju

The issue of child labour was never an agenda of any social organization and the state before 1990. Despite the prevalence of child labour, the pre-1990 government did not recognize child labour as a problem. During the Panchayat period the government had claimed the non-existence of child labour in Nepal.


This issue emerged as a social agenda only after 1990. The democratic governments formed after 1990 not only recognised the problem of child labour in Nepal but also formulated laws, policies and programmes for the protection of children and their rights.

Nepal ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and expressed its public commitment at the international forum for the protection of the rights of the child. In line with its international commitment, the government introduced and enforced laws regarding the protection of children including the Children�s Act 1992 and Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act 2000.

Some organizations made significant contribution to the development and protection of child rights in Nepal. Among them Underprivileged Children Education Programme (UCEP) was one of the pioneer organizations dealing with child labour rehabilitation in Nepal. The UCEP programme started in 1982 has its own non-formal education curriculum for children living in deprived conditions. After the completion of its stage of education, UCEP provided vocational training like draftsmanship, auto-mechanics and tailoring.

The Chhauni Children�s Home established in 1985 and situated in Swayambhu area played a key role for the removal and rehabilitation of street children in Kathmandu. The objective of this organization was to rescue young abandoned children roaming in the streets of Kathmandu and send them in rehabilitation centre. It rehabilitated a signification number of rag-picking children through its correction homes. This is the first organization in Nepal, which actually started programme for the street children living in risk. But now this organization does not exist.

Before 1990, many INGOs including ILO and UNICEF did not have any policy and programme for child labour in Nepal. In 1987, a group of post-graduate university students took initiative to raise the issue of child labour. This group formed an organization called Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre, which was supported by Child Workers in Asia, Thailand.

My personal survey began with dealing on the problems of teashop boys popularly known as �Hotel Kanchha�, in Kathmandu. The study was published in a CWIN�s publication the �Voice of Child Worker�. This was followed by another survey on the condition of shoe shining boys in Kathmandu. By the end of 1989 some other surveys such as rag-picking children, carpet-weaving children, street children, child labour in tea garden, etc. were conducted.

In 1988, the first five-day conference on working children in South Asia was organised in Kathmandu with support from Save the Children Norway. The outcome of the workshop was widely covered in the local media. The programme, in fact, encouraged many individuals and organizations to work in the field of child labour.

On November 20, 1989 the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Convention was ratified by Nepal on September 14, 1990. The Convention had clearly defined the provision to help protect the child labourers against their economic exploitation.

In 1990, a survey on economic exploitation over children in Tea Estates in Ilam and Jhapa districts commissioned soon after restoration of multiparty system. This writer had coordinated the research survey.

The government made an amendment in the existing Labour Act in 1991 adding some more clauses concerning prohibition of employing children under 14 years.

In 1992, I coordinated a national level survey on the child labour problem in carpet industry. In the same year the National Children�s Act 1992 was enacted. The plight of economic exploitation of children in hand knotted carpet industry in Nepal was disclosed in different media. Most of the European consumers stopped buying the Nepali carpets after the news about the use of child labour was made public. As a result, more than 40% carpet business went down.

In 1994 Concern for Children and Environment-Nepal (CONCERN) came into existence to deal with the issue of child labour in Nepal. In the same year a survey was conducted by this organization to ascertain the problems of economic exploitation of child porters in Kathmandu Valley. However, the survey report was published in a book form only in 1997 due to financial constraints. At present several NGOs and INGOs have given priority to combat the issue of child labour.

In 2000, the Nepal government signed an agreement with ILO/IPEC to fight child labor. The ILO/IPEC in collaboration with government, non governmental organisations, trade unions and employers� associations identified seven worst forms of child labour in Nepal which include child porters, carpet weaving working children, coal mine child labour, street children, bonded labour, domestic child labour and children in trafficking. A rapid assessment was also made in the same year, which estimated the number of worst form of child labourers at 127,000. Accordingly, ILO/IPEC developed a five-year action plan targeting 22 districts including Kathmandu and launched its activities.

Although the government of Nepal enacted the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act 2000, it was enforced only in 2005. Its by-laws are yet to be made. In the same way Nepal government developed a 10-year national plan of action for the protection and overall development of children in Nepal.


At present, ILO/IPEC estimates that the number ofchild labourers in Nepal stands at 2.6 million. Child labour exists in 84 areas. Agriculture is still the dominant sector that employs largest number of workers including children. However the actual figure of the number of children in this sector is yet to be ascertained. There is an urgent need to conduct a survey to find out the exact number of child workers in agriculture in Nepal.

NEPAL: Street children sniff glue to beat hunger pangs

NEPAL: Street children sniff glue to beat hunger pangs

22 Oct 2007 10:36:54 GMT
Source: IRIN
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

KATHMANDU, 22 October 2007 (IRIN) – Bhim Pariyar, who grew up on the streets of the capital, Kathmandu, huddled in a corner with other boys like him, all trying to warm themselves around the fire they had made by burning plastic, paper and tyres.

"It’s time for fun now," Pariyar told his friends as he took out the packet of dendrite.

"You know, this helps us to get rid of our hunger," explained his friend, 14-year-old Rajen Subba, who fled his home in Jhapa district in southeast Nepal due to grinding poverty and started to work as a rag picker.

But he cannot afford regular food or clothing to keep warm, and has been living on the streets for the past six years.

"I wish I was home even if it means living without food because I would not have to suffer like this," said Subba, who complains of chest pain and often gets sick.

Subba tries to forget his hardships by inhaling the fumes from the carpet glue, squeezing the dendrite from the tube into a plastic bag and holding it to his mouth.

The adhesive glue contains toluene, a sweet-smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon, which is neurotoxic. The solvent dissolves the membrane of the brain cells and causes hallucinations as well as dampening hunger pangs, and wards off cold.

"I forget everything. I won’t feel cold and hungry and can sleep easily," said Shyam Tamang, 12, another street boy.

Glue sniffing on the increase

Glue sniffing in Kathmandu has been increasing to dangerous levels among children, according to rights activists, who said their health is at risk and it is even affecting their mental health.

It can cause neurological damage, kidney or liver failure, paralysis and even death, according to local child health workers.

According to a prominent child rights NGO, Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), there are approximately 800-900 street children in Kathmandu out of 5,000 in the country.

The decade-long armed conflict between the Nepali government and Maoist rebels that ended last year also contributed to the rise in numbers, say activists. But despite the signing of the peace treaty in November 2006, many children continue to live on the streets, homeless, food-insecure and suffering from serious health problems, according to CWIN.

CWIN found that almost all street children were addicted to glue sniffing because of hunger and the influence of friends. About 95 percent of street children were using glue, and it would not take much to introduce the habit to the remaining 5 percent, it said.

It found that some children used as many as 15 tubes a day (one tube of dendrite can be used four to five times) and many used it as a substitute for regular meals.

The cheapest of all dendrites is Nepal-made, besides the imports from India and China. It is available in all hardware shops and costs less than 40 US cents per 25mg tube.

"I was really surprised why these children came so often to my shop to buy the carpet dendrite and now I know why," said Ramesh Shrestha, a local shopkeeper, who was unaware children were using the glue as a drug.

Thanks to the street awareness programme organised by several NGOs, including CWIN, Sath Sath, and Kathmandu Valley Police, some shop owners have stopped selling glue to street children or increased prices to discourage them.

But on the whole, many shops still make it readily available, said activists.

Laws needed, say activists

"The government should make it illegal to sell dendrites to minors. That’s one of the best ways to control glue sniffing and prevent health hazards among the street children," said Sumnima Tuladhar from CWIN.

"This is an emerging problem. If we don’t take this seriously, then a lot of lives will be at stake," said Biso Bajracharya from Sath Sath.

At the official level, only the Kathmandu Valley Police has paid serious attention to the problem but since glue sniffing is not considered illegal, they have difficulty preventing shops from selling the dendrite products to children.

"The best we can do is to raise awareness among shop owners and the street children. We ask them to be more careful about their health," said a local police officer, who did not want to be named.

The trend of glue sniffing is new in Nepal compared with other countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Nepalese activists want their country to apply the same strict measures as taken in Kenya, which has laws against supplying harmful substances to minors.

"It is time for us take this issue seriously because the trend is also fast entering schools," says Bajracharya. "Nepal really needs a new law to combat the growing abuse of glue sniffing."


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A Different View Concerning CA Polls

A Different View Concerning CA Polls   [ 2007-10-5 ]

Eliza Rana
At a time when the nation is on path of restructuring itself, every ethnic community, indigenous, dalit, women and other backwards people are voicing their concerns to have their rights to cast vote in the Constituent Assembly polls. But nobody has bothered about the rights of children as regards the historical CA election. The school going children, street children and domestic workers too say that they should have right to cast votes in the CA polls.

There are about 12 million under-18 years of age who are regarded as children, having no right to cast their ballots in the upcoming CA polls. Due to growing awareness, many children are aware about the condition of political upheaval, human rights, social justice and democratic process of the country. Many of them have participated in the people�s movement in one or the other. Street children were the ones who actively participated in many of the political protest programmes. Many of them were injured but none of the organization, government or political parties came forward to acknowledge their contribution, let alone taking care of them.

Article 22 of the Interim Constitution-2063 has mentioned the basic rights of the children that include their rights of identity and name, along with the rights to basic health and social security and rights of protection against any physical, mental and other types of abuse. The state should provide special care and facility to orphans, mentally retarded children, children affected by conflict, displaced and street children. Children are not allowed to be recruited in police, army services and be involved in kilns.

But these acts so far has not been implemented in practice. Many children are still found working in kilns and other dangerous and risky works.

Bishal Lama, 17, of Sindupalchowk said his neighbor brought him to Kathmandu with a promise to provide him education but now he has been working in a tea-stall as the negibour failed to fulfill his promise.

When asked about what he knew about the ongoing politics, he retorted saying that politics was not a matter of his concern. But when asked what he expected from the government, he replied the government should address the problems of the children especially like him, who came all the way from village to make his future in Kathmandu.

He said the government should allow children the right to cast votes in CA election so that �we can have a leader of our choice who can support and help to make our future prosperous and bright.�
Bishal Kayastha, a former street children, who now lives in a children�s home, said the state should provide children the rights and their voice should be listened to.

Kamal Bara, a domestic worker said, � I have citizenship certificate but I cannot cast votes in CA polls because I have not reached the age of 18 so I request all the adult eligible voters to chose the right candidates who can make a difference to the life of the street children as well as everybody else.�

Similarly, students going to higher education centers too shared the same views. Nipur Pradhananga, a grade 12 student of Universal College, reveals that the political parties should be conscious about the betterment of children.

They said that children are the pillars of nation. But this ideal has never been implemented in practice. Political parties have never acted in favor of children�s rights. The frequent strikes that force closures of schools and the protest of political parties have badly hampered the education of children. In such a situation, how can children become the pillars of the future and how would the nation get an able leadership in future if the rights of the children is not protected? Nipur queries.

The regular bandh has mentally affected the children and students now wish to remain inside their homes instead of going to school, he said.

�If given opportunity to cast my vote in CA polls, I will certainly chose the right person because it is not only our right but our duty,� reveals Nipur.

Tripti Bhuju, a grade 12 student of Ambition Academy said the protest and regular bandhs have badly affected the education of children. �I think the new generation should have the opportunity for leading the country so that they can realize the sentiments and rights of the children. The activities that would hamper the education of students must be stopped,� Bhuju said.

Feeling Of Guilt

Feeling Of Guilt   [ 2007-8-24 ]

WE talk a lot about social justice and equity. Once it was about equality that god had created us as equals. They also talked about the colour of blood being red in every human being. But, it turned to some having the blue blood. In fact, no one has come across anyone having his/her blood blue. It was just put into the imagination and thereby get the cake for yourself. It has been like that throughout history. The strong have always been suppressing the weak. The possession of arms made matters still different. It is for nothing that the deterrent policy is not working.

All these go to effect changes in the society. There are many ways to impose your superiority. The technocrats may be powerful but the politicians have the say in almost hundred per cent of the cases. So, may be the political leaders are powerful. That is best left to debate which will be never ending one as politics is.

What concerns almost everyone is the rising population in our country. In fact, the political parties must be thanking themselves that there are more voters. It is for the population factor that India is the largest democracy in the world and they are justified in boasting about it.

What about us? The rising population is creating a greater number of destitute people out in the streets. Well, everyone has to have enough food to eat and that is the basic problem. Remember the incident when rice that had been stocked for five years or so were dumped as it was not fit for human consumption. But, some villagers took it home. That indicates that our situation is not good. We’re supposed to be in the transition times. That’s only a way to console ourselves but deep in our heart we know what pinches us.

On the matter, it is rather unfortunate that the number of street children in the cities is increasing especially in the Kathmandu metro. It is plain and clear to any one who takes the round of the metro whether as a pedestrian, public vehicle commuter or in your own private means of transportation. There, out in the street, are groups of the street children on their prowl. They may be asking for donations or scavenging as the metro is a haven for garbage piles at strategic points.
It is true that there are a number of NGOs that profess to work for doing the needful to make the street children’s life better. Yes, they also regularly come up with thick volumes as reports to show the good they have been doing. But, alas, the street children live as any of us has observed in the streets.

Heckling the people is their common behaviour. Can’t fight back but listen to them. One has the tendency to get humiliated but there’s no way out but go through the experience. The street children are not to be blamed as they are living a live deprivation and sees in you a person who has enough of everything. One just can’t face many of such children with supposedly empty milk pouches. Probably they are sniffing glue. Well, it’s a percentage of a generation that is going to waste. That brings in us a feeling of guilt.

Rhetoric can’t help them. There are people who talk much of bringing relief to the people and the street children also might be included. But action is nowhere. When one is troubled by one’s own problems it seems that only a few can dare to take up the challenges. And they must receive ovation for trying to make the rest of us get some relief from the ever snapping feeling of guilt at the state of the street children.