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A Journey to School: You Don't Need to Become a Kamalari to Attend Class

Former kamalari Pramila, 15, from Nepal is now back at school.
Former kamalari Pramila, 15, from Nepal is now back at school.
July 9, 2013

“Because of poverty, I have had to endure many problems to continue my studies,” says Pramila, a 15-year-old girl from Nepal.

“My family couldn’t afford my educational expenses, so my father decided to send me to work as a kamalari–a child servant.”

Pramila had accepted the terms of the agreement because her “master” had promised to send her to school. Unfortunately, her dream was short-lived.

“It was the opposite of my expectations, as I was not provided a better environment for study even though I was enrolled at school,” she says.

Her situation became much worse when she became ill. “At one point I had to return home to rest because I had become sick from pneumonia.”

Pramila soon heard about the Kamalari Abolition Project that was run by the Freed Kamaiya Women Development Forum–a partner organization of Plan. Motivated and supported by the project’s staff, she realized that it was possible to continue with her education without having to work as a kamalari.

“I am no longer a kamalari. I can study at a school near my home without any problems. This project is helping us,” she says. “There is a good learning environment at school, too. The teachers and my friends are nice and encourage me to study more.”

Unfortunately, there are many girls in the community who are still unable to go to school, their future blinkered by poverty.

“Some have dropped out before completing secondary school, while many girls don’t get support from their families even though they have to work. Often, the girls don't get the stationery they need because their families cannot afford it. Many of the parents are illiterate and they do not see girls’ education as being important. Those who leave school have to work for their survival,” explains Pramila.

It’s for this reason that Pramila is determined to become a teacher when she grows up so that she can aid in educating her community.

Pramila believes that education is “…an instrument that can guide people to a better life. We can be doctors, engineers, and teachers if we study hard. I think if we study, then everybody will love us and will pay attention to us,” she says.

Read Additional Stories from the Series:

One Teacher's Story

Determined to Learn

Balancing School and Work

A Husband's Perspective

Mother and Daughter Perspectives

The Benefits of an Education



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