Home Life at the Safe House
The safe house nurtures a family environment with each resident responsible for cooking meals, cleaning up, washing clothes, and other household duties. A live-in house mother looks after the women and ensures they are doing their daily chores, completing their homework, and keeping up with their responsibilities. Another live-in staff member takes care of the administration of the home, tutors and encourages the girls in their schoolwork, and coordinates life skills training (classes that teach about personal hygiene,identifying and handling emotions in a productive way, and general literacy).
We have no workers here, no cook, no clean-up helper, so everybody has a daily duty when they wake up. Those who go to college go to school. They have a daily duty cooking breakfast and lunch,washing the clothes, and going to training. We have devotions every morning; after lunch they start training, and after the training they practice. In the evening, dinner and devotions.
Tailor and parlor training is conducted for three hours every day in the classroom. On-the-job training is provided in the safe house beauty parlor & tailor shop that are open to the public. The girls are kept busy as much as possible so they can engage themselves in some work, which helps bring their focus away from past memories that cause them to be in depression and isolation.
The minimum time for the girls to participate in the program is one year; if they cannot finish their training in a year, or if they require additional confidence-building in running their own shop, they remain for a second year. Once they gain the skills to go out on their own, the women are provided with seed money to start their own small business. Start-up funds that are provided for graduates to open their own business include three month’s rent and the supplies needed to open a tailor shop or beauty parlor.
This is why our program is different, because we don’t have a time frame. Our intention is to re-establish the girls, make them able to self-sustain. As long as they need to gain confidence in their vocation, they stay here, which means some stay a few months [after graduation], others may stay a few years. We don’t have a time frame, because once we train them, we can’t just tell them, “Okay, you are trained; now go back.” They need to be able to say, “I have learned this skill; I think I can stand on my own and I can move on.”
The graduation ceremony is an important component of the program, to highlight the women’s achievements and celebrate their success. Family members are invited to witness the public acknowledgement of their daughter’s value,which serves also to elevate their status in society as individuals.
Graduation is very important for us to show that we are giving them priority. We want them to feel that they are important, that everybody appreciates them, what they have achieved, and then we congratulate them. We invite their family members or relatives or whoever they have. They will see one time this girl was in a bad situation, now they are graduating; they are publicly announced, they now have good well-being in their society. That’s very important.
After graduation, we send them to work in our shops, small businesses where they can gain confidence dealing with customers. We encourage them to go back to where they come from and start their business. After some time, they come to us and say, “Okay, I can do it on my own.” Then we pray for them, provide them basic equipment, and send them back to their village. When they start a business, it will not make money immediately.They may need some time, so we have a provision with them that we will provide that rented place for at least three months in the beginning. We follow up with them to see how they are doing. After that, slowly they will gain the confidence and they will start to earn money.
Many girls have changed their lives and they have changed their old ways; they are no longer willing to go back to their former profession. Those girls who were addicted to drugs, smoking, and alcohol have come out from those addictions and they have made a commitment to stay away from these bondages. Some young girls,once rejected by their parents, were rescued from the red-light district and are now integrated back into their families.
They have many shops open around Kathmandu and all over Nepal, which is very encouraging for us. They are doing really good and they say, “Okay, now you don’t have to support us. We can do all by ourself.” Not only that, we are training other people from the local villages. So that is a major achievement. This is happening more and more in many places.
But this is their home in Kathmandu; any time they come to the city to go shopping for materials, this home is always open for them.