"The promise of a good job in the Middle East felt like empowerment, and when an opportunity to travel came along, I leapt at it."

An Opportunity Abroad

Born to an extremely poor family in eastern Nepal, Kunjana had absolutely nothing growing up. No one in her family could find work and they were unable to support one another, and Kunjana had no choice but to grow up very quickly. With no financial support from her family, she had to drop out of school in the eighth grade. Soon after, she made the decision to move to Kathmandu to work as a cook for a construction company to help support herself and her family.

While earning a small wage, Kunjana met a woman from her community named Subi. Subi spoke of great opportunities in the Middle East. Apparently, the woman had a connection who could get Kunjana a well-paying job as a nanny. Kunjana leaped at the opportunity, desperate to earn the money her family so direly needed. Subi informed her that she would simply need to travel to Delhi, India and a man named Rajan would be able to help her with the arrangements.

Along the way to Delhi, Kunjana met two other girls who were planning to meet Rajan as well, and together, they crossed the border into India. After a lengthy train ride, the three arrived in Delhi, met Rajan, and were taken to a nearby apartment. Upon entering the apartment, Kunjana was surprised to find 25 other girls already there, and according to a few, Rajan had several more apartments with an abundance of girls living in each. Kunjana put this information out of her head, and still whole-heartedly trusted this man that she barely knew.

"The number of women living in this apartment to get "nanny" jobs was concerning. Still, I wanted to support my family so I trusted him."

Rajan told the girls that it was rather difficult to get paperwork from the Embassy to allow them into the Middle East, but he had a plan if they were willing to cooperate—they would first travel through Sri Lanka. He told the girls to tell customs that they were simply visiting the country and that they would be returning to Nepal. Rajan tricked immigration by purchasing the girls tickets back to Kathmandu, and cancelling the tickets once they arrived at a stop in Sri Lanka. Rajan knew that there is no required Embassy paperwork if you fly from Sri Lanka to the Middle East.

Once they had gotten past immigration, Rajan took the girls to another location with even more girls than the previous apartment. The new place was filthy, the conditions were unfathomable and the girls were miserable. By this point, Kunjana had figured out that she had made a terrible mistake and that Rajan was not a good man. She was scared for her future and even her life. Rajan’s men gave her fake paperwork and Kunjana was to be flown out of Sri Lanka soon to an unknown fate. Just as Kunjana had given up all hope of ever returning to her family, a  team, including Free for Life’s partner organization, came to her rescue.

The team had come to know about Rajan through a man whose wife had been trafficked. While trying to get his wife back, Rajan made the man a deal—bring two new girls to replace his wife. Our Nepali partner told the husband to say he would bring the girls to give the team the opportunity to capture this wicked man. With the help of two female volunteers and the local police, the team succeeded in arresting one of the worst traffickers the organization has ever seen. That same day, 11 girls were resuced — including Kunjana — and two high-profile traffickers were arrested. Rajan had boasted that he trafficked over a thousand girls every year.

"I want to bring an end to this injustice; no girl should have to suffer like I did"

After some counseling, all the girls agreed to go back to Kathmandu with the team. Kunjana decided to take a stand against the injustice and to file a human trafficking case against the woman who tricked her in the first place, Subi, as well as Rajan. According to our sources, Subi has since been arrested, and although Rajan is awaiting trial, he is still running his trafficking ring. We even received information that he is attempting to lure the rescued girls back into the trade by paying them a double salary. Due to this, we have remained in constant contact with the girls and they have been reporting any time the traffickers contact them.

Even with all she’s been through, Kunjana has remained strong and is planning on attending beauty school training. Her dream is to, one day, open up a beauty parlor of her own.


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Free for Life
Free for Life Team
Free for Life is fighting human trafficking around the world in the areas of prevention, intervention and restoration. Together with our partners, we are working every day for our vision statement: freedom for all. View more posts by Free for Life.