We recently rode through Nepal and whilst in Kathmandhu we stopped in to see a friend of a friend who, almost 10 years ago set up a charity called the Esther Benjamins Trust, rescuing Nepalese children that, effectively sold into slavery, work in circuses in India.
The children are taken away when as young as 5 years old and remain with the circuses until, in their late teens, they are of no use to them. At that point they often find themselves thrust into the Indian sex trade.
Throughout thier time in the circuses they are subject to constant abuse (often sexual) by the owners and are effectively unknown to the authorities.
Esther Benjamins Trust locates these circuses, raids them with the help of local police, lawyers, medical experts and child pschologists. The rescued children are then examined and returned to Nepal where they are offered the chance to live in the safety of one of EBT's homes. There they can either choose to go to school (which most do) or study a more vocational skill (which some of the oldest kids do) before, hopefully, re-entering society with the right skills.
EBT in the meantime, prosecutes the circus owners and the agents who sold the children - leading to long prison sentences. The size of EBT means that, ironically, it's too small to get any funding from government international development donors (as the amount of money being requested simply isn't worth the bureacrats time!) but they make a little money go a very long way!
One way they keep going is with the help of volunteers. Some work in the office or help around with the never ending list of jobs, but some, especially those with any specific skills can really be of help, be it as an IT expert, electrician or a craftsman who can fix things or pass on their skills. You never know, you might even get to go on a raid!...
It's an amazing charity working for an amazing cause.
If you are interested in stopping somewhere on the road or are simply looking to do something charitable you couldn't do better than choosing Esther Benjamins Trust in Nepal.
In return for your services EBT will provide basic food and accomodation. You'll, obviously, need to get yourself to Kathmandhu and have your own insurance (which most will have anyway). You may need some sort of criminal check given that you're working with children but given that this is an international forum I won't suggest which checks - I suggest you ask when you make contact (bear in mind this can, in the UK at least, take a month).
Anybody interested should visit the Esther Benjamins Trust at the link below or contact the Chief Executive Philip Holmes at: email@example.com
The Esther Benjamins Trust - Remembering Nepal's forgotten children