Ishya and Devna are from a small village in the mountainous region of Nepal. They enjoyed a simple life there before poverty and a number of broken promises thrust them into the world of modern slavery.
A Long Way From Home
Ishya rarely went unnoticed — her dyed hair stood out amongst the other young, Nepalese girls who surrounded her. Ishya didn’t mind the attention though. She thought of the blonde strands as a reflection of the new opportunity in her life. She quickly glanced at her friend and travel companion, Devna. She thought to herself how fortunate they were to be getting away. In their home village, most families were struggling to put food on the table.
The pair excitedly awaited their final destination. They thought of the domestic work — and high wages — they were promised, and how they would send money back home whenever they could. The girls clutched their purses, filled only with makeup, and traveled quietly towards the border of India.
A Journey Halted
Free for Life team members monitoring this border crossing first noticed Ishya’s light-colored hair. They stopped the rickshaw that was carrying her and Devna from the flow of travelers. The two girls appeared scared and told our border monitoring staff about a shopping trip they had planned, to a city they could not name. Recognizing the story felt rehearsed, team members questioned the girls further. Ishya’s phone rang repeatedly, her screen displaying an unknown, foreign number. Finally, the pair admitted they were traveling to accept positions as domestic servants abroad. Still, they did not know where they were headed or who they were meeting, and the salaries they had been promised were too good to be realistic. Amidst the uncertainty, Ishya and Devna were willing to take the risk to work their way out of poverty.
Restored to Safety
Fortunately, FFLI staff members recognized the dangerous situation and educated each girl about how false promises often lead to enslavement and abuse. The border monitoring team connected each with law enforcement and shelter and both returned home their loved ones, free from exploitation.