March 16, 2012

Home alone in Nepal

By |16 March 2012|

By Laura Sheahen “Where’s your mother?” Usually when you ask small children this question, the answer is predictable: At home. At the market. At work, a few kilometres or a drive away. In villages of Nepal, a deeply impoverished country on India’s northeast border, children answer differently. “In Kuwait.” “In Saudi.” “She’s in a foreign country.” Mahesh Upadhaya is older—he’s 17. “My mother went to Saudi Arabia for two years. I was 15 when she left,” says Mahesh, who lives in an area of western Nepal called Bardiya. “When my mother wasn’t here, I couldn’t go to school. I had to do chores and work in the fields.” Mahesh’s father is deaf, and as the oldest of five children, Mahesh had to help the family get by until his mother began sending home the money she earned as a maid for a Saudi Arabian family. About 200,000 Nepali women like […]

Bhutanese refugees in Nepal: A day in the life

By |13 March 2012|

In the early 1990s the country of Bhutan, in the Himalayas, forcibly drove out over 100,000 ethnic Nepalis they claimed were not true citizens. These Bhutanese refugees ended up in eastern Nepal as migrants in limbo. Required to stay in refugee camps, they’ve lived for 20 years without electricity or good health care. The camp residents are also vulnerable to underhand job offers. In March 2012, photographer Katie Orlinsky and Laura Sheahen of Caritas Internationalis visited the camps with Rupa Rai, who runs safe migration programmes for Caritas Nepal. 8:00 As we drive along the road to the camp, we see refugee men bicycling into the nearby town of Damak for work like bricklaying. At the camp entrance, we pass a dozen thatched-roof kiosks with Western Union signs. Many refugees have finally been admitted into countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada. Some are doing well and are sending money […]

Domestic worker abuse: Battered, bruised but back in Nepal

By |8 March 2012|

By Laura Sheahen, “When I got home, my family saw my condition and cried.” Twenty-four-year old Damber Kumari Gurung had left her village in Nepal for Saudi Arabia to work as a maid. More than a year later, she came back covered with bruises. She’d worked long hours in a private Saudi home, getting about four hours of sleep each night as she struggled to keep up with the cooking, cleaning and washing. The family she worked for rarely paid her, and when she asked for her salary, they sent her back to the employment agents in Riyadh. She can’t say exactly what happened next. She remembers fighting back when they tried to strip her, and ripping one of the agent’s shirts. When she arrived at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, she was black and blue. “I was crying bitterly. People surrounded me,” she says. A woman at the […]

Justice and care for migrant women

By |7 March 2012|

More women than ever before are migrating alone in search of a better life, but Caritas Internationalis says systems aren’t in place to prevent them from being exploited or abused. In a report published today, Caritas says governments and social services dealing with migration need to address migrant women’s needs. In its report The female face of migration: advocacy and best practices for women who migrate and the families they leave behind, Caritas documents the challenges faced by some of over 104 million women who are seeking opportunities outside their homelands and travelling independently from their families. Some find better jobs, education opportunities and greater freedoms. But too frequently on their journey and upon arrival they are cheated, abused, raped or discriminated against. “We urgently need to change the way we think about women’s migration,” says Caritas Internationalis Advocacy and Policy Director Martina Liebsch, “because the current system is failing to protect [...]

Female face of migration

By |7 March 2012|

When impoverished women decide to leave their countries to work abroad, they often are deceived or abused. Smugglers and human traffickers may exploit them, forcing them to work as unpaid prostitutes or beggars. Women who become domestic workers are sometimes beaten, overworked, or not paid. Many women leave behind their own families to care for others, making their children vulnerable. The Female Face of Migration, a report by Caritas Internationalis, describes the problems that migrant women face. Explore this page to learn more: read the policy paper, get to know to stories of four women, and play our interactive game “Follow the Migrant Woman” to see what choices you would make if you were a poor woman going abroad.

Migrants risk all to cross from Mexico to the US

By |7 March 2012|

Human smuggling is a boom business according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, with the profits in the billions (over $32 billion in 2005). Caritas Internationalis says that while every country has the right to regulate immigration, restrictive measures are simply encouraging people to resort to more dangerous and expensive channels of migration.
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    Drugged, kidnapped and enslaved in brothel: how one Nepalese woman fought back

Drugged, kidnapped and enslaved in brothel: how one Nepalese woman fought back

By |7 March 2012|

By Laura Sheahen “In the brothel, there were no windows. The only light was from the lightbulb—that was the sun and the moon for us.” Charimaya Tamang grew up in the hill country of Nepal, working on her family’s farm. She was used to the outdoors and sunshine and freedom. But after waking from a drugged sleep thousands of miles from her village, the sixteen-year-old was shut in a room behind three doors, each one locked after the other. Unlike most girls from rural Nepal, Charimaya knew early on that the men who eventually abducted her were criminals. One had approached her in her village, complimenting her intelligence and her classroom work, suggesting she leave her home for better opportunities. “They’d say, ‘You have potential, you could work in a business,’” she remembers. But Charimaya had read in a book about human traffickers who buy and sell unsuspecting people into […]

February 27, 2012

A future for Congo’s women

By |27 February 2012|

"Karibu, welcome," said Adèle. She and a dozen other women are hard at work in a field beside the Goma to Rutshuru Road in North Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Adèle is an agronomist and also heads three associations supported by a Caritas project to rehabilitate women war victims. "We've planted peanut seeds and we're in the process of taking out the weeds so they don't overrun the place," she said. "When Caritas launched the project, 60 women were involved. We were given peanut, bean and pea seeds. After the first harvests we bought some maize seeds. Look at what they’ve turned into. We have two hectares of fine maize that we'll soon be able to harvest." Marie-José is one of the women who have benefited. “When I joined the association, I wasn't in very good shape,” she said. “My husband had been killed and all our property had been [...]

‘They’ve sold you’: sex trafficking in Nepal

By |27 February 2012|

To mark the launch of a new Caritas report on the female face of migration, communications officer Laura Sheahen and photographer Katie Orlinsky travelled to Nepal to document the trafficking of young girls and women. Follow their journey. By Laura Sheahen  “We girls were hidden under floorboards during police raids. There were ten girls there — it was so cramped you couldn’t breathe.” Rekha* was fourteen when she left her homeland of Nepal for India, saying yes when a friend’s mother offered her domestic work abroad. But when Rekha reached India, there was no maid job. Instead, she found herself in a dark room with many other girls. “I cried a lot. I didn’t even know how to speak Hindi,” she remembers. “I met another Nepalese girl, and she said, ‘They’ve sold you.’” Over the course of 18 months, Rekha was sold into three different brothels. In the last one, she convinced [...]

U-turn Ukraine: There’s no place like home

By |27 February 2012|

Oxana had left Ukraine to join her husband. He had gone to Brussels to look for work after being made redundant and with the lack of job opportunities at home.

How human traffickers recruit

By |13 February 2012|

By Laura Sheahen  This is Part 1 of a two-part article on human trafficking. To find out more about how COATNET helps former victims, see Part 2. “When we started in the early 2000s, a common way for traffickers to lure people was through ads in the newspapers,” says Gabriela Chiroiu of Caritas Bucharest. “They’d offer attractive jobs in modeling or dancing, needing no experience. The ad would say ‘young people preferred.’” “In Romania, unemployment is high. Factories and companies continue to close,” says Chiroiu. “People think, ‘OK, someone’s offering a job that’s maybe not the best job in the world, but something is better than nothing.’” But the ads were really targeting teenage girls for sex work. “Then people started being careful about such ads,” she said. “We and other groups checked all the modeling agencies—we called them. We created a blacklist of about 20 agencies.” Today, such ads are more likely to be on [...]

Tackling human trafficking

By |13 February 2012|

Throughout the world, criminals exploit poor or desperate people. Traffickers offer them jobs that don’t exist and take them from their homes before selling them into unpaid prostitution, beggary, or forced labour.

December 23, 2011

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    In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

In southern Haiti mothers are at the heart of development strategy

By |23 December 2011|

Food security, especially that of children, is a major problem in Haiti. Caritas has put in place various initiatives in the province of Les Cayes in southern Haiti to deal with this issue. With the help of CRS, the local Caritas has set up more than 200 mothers groups. What's a mothers group? "As the name suggests, it's a group of mothers from a particular district with whom local Caritas workers develop activities in order to improve families' food security and living conditions," explains Jean Harry Dominique, the CRS agricultural projects coordinator for the region. To get a better idea, we joined him on a field trip to Roche-à-Bateau. Mutual financial assistance "I'd like to set up a small business selling rice, flour an sugar. The last time I made a decent profit. I've asked for 1,000 gourdes (US$25) to buy products." Ariette Tessono is speaking. She belongs to a mothers group [...]

September 15, 2011

Time to free Rizana Nafeek

By |15 September 2011|

Campaigners are hoping that the plight of Sri Lankan death row housemaid Rizana Nafeek could end soon with her release from a Saudi Arabian prison and her return home. Rizana Nafeek was sentenced in 2007 to beheading for strangling a baby she was looking after as a nanny in 2005. Rizana was just a minor herself when the tragedy took place. She maintains that it was an accident caused by her inexperienced efforts to save the baby from choking. Riyadh Acting Governor Prince Sattam updated Sri Lankan officials last month, saying that a Reconciliation Committee is currently negotiating with the aggrieved parents to settle the case either with a pardon or the payment of ‘blood money’. The Sri Lankan government is ready to pay. The Caritas Sri Lanka National Director Fr. George Sigamoney recently visited the family of Rizana Nafeek to keep them updated. Caritas Sri Lanka is still doing all it [...]

July 11, 2011

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    American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

By |11 July 2011|

By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA.  People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help. Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state. Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US. We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and [...]

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