Though human trafficking laws are in place here in Nepal, they are implemented poorly. Numerous NGOs operate though with little coordination. With approximately 7000 men, women,children being trafficked here annually, information gathering is necessary, particularly since this is being done across borders. Its complex and necessitates coordination between many different agencies.
The second challenge is the culture itself. If a young woman has been trafficked and is rescued, its highly unlikely she can return to her village. Stigma runs deep, and many families will not accept her back. Her community sees her at fault, and with no place to return to, she is left alone with no safety net. The rescue coordination, the "safe" houses/hostels, training, healing are all necessary to help these survivors to recreate their family/community and self esteem. The trauma they suffer is all- consuming - emotional, mental, physical.
We spent time with the young women at a "safe" house/hostel today. They were all in different stages of healing and timing after their return to their country/life after being rescued. They were normal young Nepali women - loved to do art, play games, sing and, most specially, dance. We did all of these with them, and they clung to our arms, grabbed our hands to dance, smiled big, were shy, and screamed and laughed, and for a few short hours, maybe were able to see beyond the mire of their lives. Many cried when the time came to part. Estranged from their family, shunned by their community, they are forced to recreate their own.
Shakti Samuha (shaktisamuha.orga), an NGO, supported by their own meager funds, offer these survivors shelter (for as long as necessary as each one needs a differing amount of time to rebuild her life), skills training (computer, sewing, weaving) and a support to rebuild and recreate their lives.
7 of the young women, who have been working for Shakti Samuha for the past 3 years have also been learning how to teach Expressive Healing Arts training during this this time also. And that is what our global group of 12 is doing here in Kathmandu. We have come to support, be guinea pigs for the girls training, and help strengthen their safety net with the Power of Women. And in this past two weeks we have become heart-sisters along the path to wholeness. I have learned so much from them.
On Wellington Street
The exterior of the home is similar to many of the others on Wellington Street. But the interior is something altogether different, with every room, excluding the main parlor, the kitchen, and the large bathroom upstairs, being the same size, furnished with the same objects. All the rooms are ten by ten, and there are over twenty rooms, though that number is up for debate.
Because of the strange arrangement of rooms and their similar formats, the number seems to change depending on who you ask. Some have tried to count the rooms by making small changes as they pass from one to another. At around thirty, most begin to realize that the objects they had moved have returned to the original position, and that the marks on the walls they had left with chalk have mysteriously been whipped away. Some even try to leave doors open, only to discover that they have a propensity for closing themselves once you are several rooms away.
The reason behind the peculiar design of the home is unknown, and none of the architects notes contain any information outside of floor plans. Although the existence of floor plans should be able to offer a clue as to how many rooms there are, it seems that as the years have passed, more and more rooms have been attributed to the home, added on by each preceding owner. The current figure of twenty is based on the original floor plans, though the actual number is likely closer to thirty.
Each room contains maroon colored wallpaper, one bed with black sheets, an old clock built into the wall, a short ornate lamp, and a single oak trunk at the front of the bed. Each room also contains a picture on the wall, and it is assumed that these are images of the original family. This should aid in the assessment of the number of rooms, but people report that in any visit one may see only a couple of the full total of pictures contained within the home. It is not uncommon for people to become lost within the walls of the house, and it is not strange for people to require a minimum of a half hour to find their way out.
Even groups can become lost, and it is believed that the walls are insulated as attempts to communicate between closed doors has proven to be impractical. This has not prevented people from purchasing the home, and like many of the buildings here there has been a long string of owners. But like many, it is always short lived, as a series of disappearances and deaths have marred this places history. Unlike many however, this has little impact on the popularity of the property and it is only the intervention of an investigation by local law enforcement that has managed to keep the home empty for any period of time.