Imagine what it's like to be a child growing up behind cold metal bars surrounded by criminals serving time.
That is exactly what dozens of children are doing. This is the story of children who are growing up behind bars for no crime of their own, but they have no choice.
There are as many as 100 children trapped in various jails around Nepal, not because they've done anything wrong but simply because their parents have. With no one to take care of them, the parents have brought their children along to jail. The children are growing up with almost no basic amenities, without education, and without hope for a better tomorrow.
Since it was started, ECDC has freed nearly 100 children from jail, overcoming red tape and building trust among the jailer, the mother and Pushpa herself. It all starts off by locating a child who is stuck behind bars, Pushpa personally travels to the jails herself even if it is in a remote part of Nepal to make official agreements with jailer, parent and ECDC.
After agreements are complete the child is taken to the ECDC home in Kathmandu where a new life awaits them. The child is welcomed by the other children already at the shelter, but this transition phase is the hardest for the child. Many are emotionally, physically and mentally scarred by their traumatising experience in jail. There are children who have seen their fathers kill their mothers, and even young girls who were raped by their fathers. The children are given necessary attention, from food to health, care and love. All children have different periods of adjustment but they are looked over and monitored through every step.
ECDC has also set up a day care center near Sundhara Prison for children less than six years whose mothers are in jail. These children are too young to be separated from their mothers, but at least get to see life outside jail even if it is only for the day.
After winning an interest-free loan from the organization, Change Fusion Nepal, in 2009 Pushpa has also trained mothers in jail to make handicrafts that are exported to generate income for the upkeep of shelters.
Suyash Raj Bhandari
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