Raising the status of girls and transforming communities, one micro loan at a time.
In Nepal, girls are often considered a financial burden especially in poor households. Many parents feel they have no alternative to arranging marriages for adolescent girls, selling their daughters to traffickers, or sending them abroad as domestic labor to earn money for the family. Too often, families are lied to and these girls are forced to work in the sex industry or as house slaves. Few return, and those who do face a lifetime of stigmatization.
Mahesh Bhattarai founded General Welfare Pratisthan (GWP) in 1993 after hearing about incidences of poor families selling their daughters. He was shocked and horrified. Having a young daughter of his own, he felt compelled to create opportunities for vulnerable girls. Since its inception, GWP has been tackling the pervasive problem of human trafficking; their efforts have changed the cultural and economic realities of girls to the point that the selling of daughters became a rarity in the three districts where GWP is established.
Since 2011, GO Campaign has helped GWP expand anti-trafficking initiatives to three districts in Nepal through establishing peer support groups, dispersing educational and business micro loans, providing life skills training, and knowledge to prevent trafficking in these communities. Because of GWP, young women gain financial accountability and independence, becoming the breadwinners of their families. This elevation in social status then provides further opportunities for education and advancement for their siblings and family members. Grants from GO have helped support 90 peer group leaders, directly impacting over one thousand girls, launching hundreds of businesses, and changing countless lives.
Local Hero Mahesh Bhattari
In a country where girls are still bought and sold, Mahesh Bhattari has dedicated his life to ending this practice. Mahesh is an entrepreneur turned social activist. Mahesh founded General Welfare Pratisthan (GWP) in 1993 to serve and empower girls at risk of being trafficked as well as formerly sex trafficked girls and young women. While GWP’s primary work involves health services and HIV/AIDS education, they are also a leader in the economic empowerment of vulnerable girls. Through innovative socioeconomic empowerment programs, GWP increases the earning ability of girls which elevates their social standing in their family and the larger community. GWP is reaching more than 500,000 beneficiaries through these combined programs.