Maya is one of the women who makes our clothes. Before she did, at age 18, she was manipulated by a human trafficker and was nearly lost forever. Through the employment that Elegantees provides, Maya is now thriving in confidence.
This is her story.
VULNERABLE TO TRAFFICKING
I am Maya. I am 18 years old and am from the Eastern part of Nepal. I was born and brought up in a normal family. Our family’s income was mostly dependent on agriculture. My parents worked hard to provide for every basic need I had until I reached to 12th grade. Growing up, I always felt uncomfortable speaking to older people. I was especially so scared of my father, although he was a loving man. As my days went on, I was happy. I was still in school but somehow, I could not stop dreaming about wanting to stand up on my own two feet.
MANIPULATED INTO A FALSE PROMISE
I had a friend in school who lived in a village nearby. She would visit my home often, as would I. While visiting and hanging out with her, I became very close to her uncle. I felt comfortable talking to him. He suddenly became like family to me. In my free time, I started visiting him often, and went to learn karate with him. I just wanted to know about the game, and I did not know enough to play as a competitor. As time went by, he told me about opportunities in India, about great competitions that I could participate in. He told me I was good enough to compete and that he would take me to participate in the competition. I did not feel ready for it, but he convinced me otherwise. Despite my reluctance, I decided to go with him. I told my mother, but I was too terrified to tell my father. I was scared that he would not accept my decision, or give me the permission to go.
As I began my journey with him, he told me we had to cross the border to go into India. It did not seem like a problem to me, but he asked me if I would cross it alone, I did not understand it at first but I agreed. He told me he would meet me at the other side, and after that we would board a train to Delhi. While I was crossing the border, I was stopped by the Our Daughters staff in Jhapa. They questioned my whereabouts and asked me why I was crossing the border. They were curious as to why I was alone if I was going for such a huge competition. I told them about my uncle and the competition I was participating in, but they couldn’t find him waiting for me at the other side.
IT WAS A HUMAN TRAFFICKING TRAP
Our Daughters counseled me and informed me about the high risk of trafficking in and out of our country. They referred my case to the Nepal police. They came to find out that he had no proper documentation or proof that we were headed to India for a competition. We later came to find out that his true intentions were to traffic me. I was shocked at the false hopes he presented for me. With the help of Our Daughters, I registered a case on human trafficking against him.
ADOPTED AS A DAUGHTER
After that, I decided to move back home, but the stigma in the society would not let me adjust back to my normal life. They would question me and my character. They called me names, and made my family feel ashamed of having me back home. I contacted the sisters at Our Daughters after that, I told them about my situation at home. They suggested I come to one of their safe homes, and told me about different opportunities I had at learning skills and training at the office.
WORKING FOR ELEGANTEES
As I graduated from the safe home, I moved on to the training center where I was able to learn the skill of tailoring. With additional training, I was informed of the opportunity to work at the garments factory in Kathmandu. As I arrived there, I was in shock, I met so many other sisters like me that had the same stories as me, but they were free. They were living a dignified life working and earning for themselves and their family. My parents are now proud of what I do, and I send them monthly allowance.