Friday, December 17, 2010

READ's important and powerful

December 16, 2010

To whom it may concern:

My name is Rob Buckley and I am the Founder and Director of the Himalayan Healers project in Nepal. Before building the Himalayan Healers project I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, working in the border town of Birgunj, within City Hall. Both my work with Himalayan Healers and with the US Peace Corps has focused upon issues of human trafficking, prostitution, women’s rights, and youth issues. In fact, the youth development program I developed in Peace Corps was featured as a model for other youth programs for Peace Corps to use, worldwide. My work with Himalayan Healers has focused upon human trafficking issues and we have received acclaim in numerous international media sources for this.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer I lived with a Nepali family and learned of the Nepali culture, and the Nepali language, in-depth. I pride myself on my grass-roots connections in Nepal, and my understanding of the various dynamics that interconnect in this amazing nation. My work in Peace Corps occurred during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, and when US Peace Corps closed their operations in Nepal I was the only Volunteer to stay and to continue our work, independently. This is simply an example of my grass-roots connections here in Nepal, and my commitment to these issues.

In my more than seven years of work at the grass-roots level focusing upon human trafficking, prostitution, women’s rights, and youth issues I have never once come across even a hint of human trafficking relating to the orphanages and to adoptions. If the US Embassy has information in relation to this they have a responsibility to share that information with the numerous organizations and professionals in Nepal that work on human trafficking. The very fact that they have not shared any information is in fact a very telling statement to consider.

I have however been keenly aware of the tremendous problem with human trafficking of young teenage girls in Nepal, and there are numerous organizations that focus upon this in Nepal. My organization helps to rehabilitate Nepali girls who have been rescued from brothels after being sold in to sexual slavery. Recently we won an international award in Asia for this work, as we are the only project in the world doing what we do.

What confuses me in regards to the official US Embassy position on child trafficking in relation to orphanages and adoptions is that among all of my professional colleagues and contacts in Nepal that work with human trafficking on the grass-roots level on a daily basis – these are professionals that are fluent in Nepali, understand the local culture, and have strong community contacts – none of us has even once come across a human trafficking issue in regards to orphanages and adoptions.

There are numerous issues in Nepal that the US Embassy could perhaps better use their resources towards. One painful example would be that of pedophilia in Kathmandu. The issue is bad enough that a billboard has been posted in the main tourist area of Kathmandu stating that pedophilia is against the law. If the US Embassy were committed to protecting Nepali children this would be an obvious area for them to focus their attentions. In fact, it angers me greatly that they do not.

Lastly, it is important to consider the local dynamics in Nepal in terms of the Maoist insurgency and the infrastructure of this nation. During the eleven years of civil war many people were murdered, abused, assaulted, tortured, and disappeared. Many males that were in their teenage years or older moved to India for work, and to escape forced conscription within the Maoist army. Many villagers moved to the capital city to avoid the conflict and the oppression; it is estimated by local authorities that the Kathmandu Valley grew in population from around two million people to between five million and eight million people in the past ten years. Prior to the Maoist insurgency birth certificates were a fairly uncommon practice. With the social turmoil caused by the insurgency it is certainly understandable that families were broken apart and that children were born without birth certificates.
Without specific evidence and examples of human trafficking in relation to orphanages the US Embassy is doing a tremendous disservice to those children, to this nation, and to the law abiding US citizens that are investing their own time, funds, and resources to provide safe, loving homes to children of need. Beyond being a disservice, without credible and tangible evidence to justify their official stance on human trafficking, orphanages, and adoptions, the actions of the US Embassy are confusing, as well as unethical.

There are so many painfully obvious areas of need and attention here, it is absolutely confusing as to why the US Embassy has taken the position that human trafficking is an issue that relates to orphanages and adoptions. If they were interested in learning more of the realities of human trafficking any of their staff are more than welcome to visit my office at Himalayan Healers to meet with my students and staff, and to learn first-hand from their experiences.

If I can provide further information or details in relation to my perspective on this issue please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.


Rob Buckley
Founder / Director / Volunteer
Himalayan Healers

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