In 1988, when we were college students, we played in a volleyball competition between 8 colleges. We still remember that day, as it was the day that the idea for the Women’s Foundation was born. After the game, a middle-aged couple came up to our team asking if anyone had seen their daughter who had been missing for three months. They told us they were from the Gorkha district in western Nepal. They were landless, so they came to Kathmandu searching for work with their three children. They started to work in a carpet factory. After eight days in the factory, a doctor asked their nine-year old daughter to be his servant: she would help care for his children, and during the day he would send her to school.
Eight days later, the doctor came to the carpet factory telling them that their daughter stole 110 grams of gold and had escaped. Since then they had been trying to locate her. After hearing their story, 14 of us gathered together to help them. We went to a political party’s office to ask for support, but they did not take us seriously. Next, we went to the police office. They were very rude: they told us, ” are you a gang of troublemakers? You should go back to your studying. Are you street children, do you not have parents?”
Then we went to 8 colleges telling the story and called a meeting for all those who were interested in helping. At this meeting, 45 women came together to discuss this case. At the same time we also discussed family and women’s issues. It was from this meeting that we decided to form an NGO to address these types of cases and offer legal support accordingly. Soon after this, we selected nine members from various backgrounds—students, doctors, lawyers, and social workers to start organizing social programs.
We have grown from that time, and today we have 240 active members, 1216 general members, 12 district offices, a community school, a temporary shelter for survivors of abuse, a working organic farm, and skills training for women. We network with a number of organizations.