At Adara, we are so lucky to have a passionate and committed team of Nepalis, Ugandans, Australians, Americans and Bermudians who strive to realise our vision. People come to community development work for many reasons: sometimes they are overcoming great hardships of their own to help others.
One such person is former Adara staff member Anshika*. More than 10 years ago, when we found the trafficked Adara Kids living in horrific conditions across Kathmandu, we hired Anshika. She was one of many didis (like a housekeeper) providing loving care for these vulnerable children.
Anshika grew up in Humla, in a small village called Muchu, where Adara now provides health and education services. She knew the local language and could relate to the Adara Kids.
Little did we know then the hardships she had endured herself to get to the point of having a job in Kathmandu.
While her three siblings had gone to school and travelled to India to further their studies, Anshika stayed in Humla to help her parents farm. For a brief time, she attended literacy classes in the village. But due to a lack of resources and poor management, the school did not always function properly.
When she was 19, during a time of great civil unrest in Nepal, Anshika was taken against her will by the Maoist insurgents. They were passing through Nepali villages, capturing a single member of each family to be used as a troop or ‘entertainer’. If you refused to join the army, you (and often others in your family) would be beaten or tortured. In all, the army captured 600 people from Humla.
Passing through Humla, the Maoists clashed with the Nepal Government Armies in Chipra. Anshika watched friends die in front of her eyes. Miraculously, she survived. The insurgent army travelled through the night without torches, for fear of being spotted.
In the Maoists’ custody, Anshika was unwilling to force villagers to provide food as her fellow soldiers did. So she spent many nights starving.
Eventually, unable to tolerate this life any longer, Anshika and two friends made bold escape plans. One moonless night, after being sent to a villager’s house for dinner, she slipped out. Anshika ran the whole night, eventually stopping and sleeping under a big boulder.
Next morning she continued to Simikot in disguise. She knew the Nepalese Army would persecute her as a Maoist runaway, so she convinced the solders she was in Simikot to renew her citizenship documents. After vigorous questioning she was let through.
Anshika stayed with an uncle in Simikot until she could buy tickets to Nepalgunj. It was a narrow escape – the Maoist army arrived the same day she left for Nepalgunj.
Anshika knew she could not return home and risk putting her family in danger of torture, kidnapping or even death. So she continued on to Kathmandu, where she stayed with a friend for two to three weeks.
It was there that she got a job at the Dharma Orphanage, looking after the children. After Adara rescued the kids from this horrible place, they brought Anshika along as a home didi. She continued in this work for six years.
After the Adara homes closed down, she returned to Humla with her earnings and opened a small hotel. But her troubles were not all behind her. She suffered from various illnesses, including pneumonia and tuberculosis, and had to travel to Kathmandu for medical attention. Running the hotel business as a single mother was difficult – often people tried to take advantage of her. After 18 months, she shifted to Kathmandu permanently.
Anshika is now 29 years old and a mother of seven – three sons and four daughters. Although committed to giving her children a bright future, she was aware she had missed the opportunity to receive an education herself. So in 2016 she returned to the classroom in Phulbari School, Boudha in Kathmandu at grade 8 level.
She loved school but found it difficult to meet the expenses as the savings from the hotel business ran out. Adara, recognising Anshika’s commitment and service to the Adara Kids, and the struggles she has faced, has committed to funding her 2017 school fees for grade 9.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.