Maya Gurung ran away from home at 14 after refusing to succumb to an arranged marriage. The police returned Maya to her family, but her father had disowned her and the rest of the village was told not to associate with her. In 2008 Maya joined a group of Nepali women who made history by being the most successful female team ever to summit Everest. The women then went on to become the first female team to summit the tallest mountain on every continent. Their success altered the way communities, and the rest of the country, thought about women. Following two devastating earthquakes in April and May 2015, Maya and her colleagues are up against an even more difficult challenge: rebuilding their precious country following overwhelming destruction.
Maya Gurung and Shailee Basnet are now respected leaders in their community. They have earned the reputation of being ‘doers’ among villagers who often only see ‘talkers.’ Maya and Shailee have signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the district government to rebuild five schools in Maya’s home village of Bhotenamlang in the district of Sindhupalchok. This district has the greatest death toll after the Nepal earthquake, and in Maya’s village, there is literally not a house standing. As a result, sex-trafficking is more rampant than ever. Keeping children, especially girls, in school is the most effective way to ensure that they stay away from traffickers. Educating women in remote areas, as well as empowering them by creating choices, is the way to keep them safe and on track.
Real Medicine Foundation, in partnership with Seven Summits Women and White Girl in Nepal, is working to rebuild, equip, and staff six schools in Bhotenamlang. Rebuilding includes creating proper administration, bringing running water and sanitary toilets, school supplies, counseling, teacher training and support, afternoon meals for kids and initiatives to build awareness of anti-trafficking for children and adults. The vision is to work with the community and facilitate the growth of world-class education in these at-risk communities. We need to ensure that every child has the opportunity to be educated so that sex-trafficking is no longer a reality. Then the village can focus on healthy economic activity, bringing a much needed economic shift in which women can be at the forefront.
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