Social Activist Anuradha Koirala is The Padma Shri awardee, has saved almost 12000 girls from sex trafficking. Here’s her inspiring story that shows her undying courage and persistence to bring change in our society.
Anuradha Koirala’s Early Married Days Of Abuse
Before fighting abuse at the national and international level, Anuradha fought abuse in her own marriage. She was herself a victim of years of abuse at the hands of her husband.
It was after she had three miscarriages, her marriage ended. But as they say, the ugly ends sometimes lead to beautiful beginnings. Anuradha’s end of marriage opened new doors for her to serve humanity – From teaching English at various schools in Nepal to opening a small shop to employ victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.
As she was herself a victim of domestic violence, she could empathize with the women who sought help from her.
Establishment of Her NGO – Maiti Nepal
But, with time she realized that she needed more provisions for helping displaced women. Hence, she had to set up a bigger institution. It was then, Anuradha along with other teachers, journalists, and social workers, laid the foundation of Maiti Nepal in 1993. You can visit the website here.
‘Maiti’, which means “mother’s home” in Nepalese, is an apt name for an institution that tends to protect and accept women like her own daughters. This NGO helps Nepali girls and women, who have been victims of various crimes – domestic violence, human trafficking, child prostitution, child labor, and so on.
Anuradha Koirala – The Mother Of All
Who said you need to have your own kids to be a mother. Anuradha may not have any children herself, but she is a mother to so many women and girls. It is because of her dedication that Maiti is now home to over 1000 women and girls who have been rescued.
“What would you do if your daughter was standing in a similar position? You have to join hands. Take each child as your daughter.”
Anuradha Koirala treats all the rescued women and girls as her own children. With 3 prevention homes, 9 transit homes, 2 hospices, and a high school, Anuradha Koirala has managed to achieve a great feat.
But, it hasn’t been easy at all.
There has been a constant threat to life by criminals who are engaged in human trafficking. These criminals have deep and high connections both in Nepal and India.
But, an even tougher task is to build trust and confidence among the rescued women. These women are wounded not only physically but also emotionally and psychologically. These women are so afraid that they are not able to open up about their sufferings and misery.
But, in Maiti, there is no hurry to make them open up. Their journey with Maiti just begins with food, shelter, and medicines. After being at Maiti for days or sometimes months, these women tend to accept this perhaps is their first home. But, for a lot of them who are not accepted by their families after rehabilitation, Maiti is the last home, too.
From providing basic treatment to providing legal aid to be part of women empowerment programs to providing ART (antiretroviral therapy) for kids and women exposed to HIV, Maiti does it all for free.
Motivation Behind Her Humanitarian Work
During her childhood, Anuradha Koirala was inspired by her parents, Colonel Pratap Singh Gurung and Laxmi Gurung. As per her parents, humanitarian services is the best form of holy work.
This feeling to help others was further strengthened while studying at Saint Joseph Convent School Kalimpong, India. Mother Teresa was her constant guiding light.
Awards and Recognition
To recognize her dedication to fight against trafficking, the Government of Nepal declared September 5th as Anti-Trafficking Day. However, in recognition of her work, she has already received more than 30 national and international awards.
2010: She was voted online globally for the CNN Top Heroes Award. She received a sum of US$ 1,00,000 to continue her work with Maiti Nepal. Additionally, she also received US$ 25,000 as a token of appreciation from CNN.
2014: She was honored with the Mother Teresa Award.
2017: Anuradha Koirala won the Padma Shri Award.
At IFORHER, we salute this 71-year-old who has till date rescued more than 12,000 girls from the clutches of sex trafficking. We want to thank her for changing the lives of thousands of women and for accepting them when their own family refused to!