Monsoon in Kathmandu, July 2018

My colleagues, Bharati Devkota and her husband Dr. Hari Devkota visited their families in Nepal last summer and asked me if I would join them to give MOVE FOR CHANGE workshops for five days for NGOs rescuing survivors of human trafficking in Nepal Before I left, I have to admit I was beside myself, worried about monsoon, if I’d find the locations and be on time for the workshops, be too jet lagged, etc. The week went beautifully and in retrospect, I had nothing to worry about. IMG_0523

First a little back ground. According a report titled “Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery, in the early years of the 21 st Century” (humantrafficking/Nepal.htm, gvnet.com/), Nepal is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Children are trafficked within the country and to India and the Middle East for commercial sexual exploitation of forced marriage, as well as to India and within the country for involuntary servitude as domestic servants, circus entertainers, factory workers, or beggars. NGOs working on trafficking issues report and increase in both transnational and domestic trafficking during the reporting period, although a lack of reliable statistics makes the problem difficult to quantify. NGO’s estimate that 10,000 to 15,000 Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India annually, while 7,500 children are trafficked domestically. In many cases, relatives or acquaintances facilitated the trafficking of women and young girls into sexual exploitation. -U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009 http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/Nepal-2.htm

Few of these survivors have access to mental health treatment. In addition, those providing services also face a plethora of challenges regarding proper training and self-care tactics. To ameliorate some of their difficulties, TOYL/Move for Change developed a train the trainer workshop to build the capacity of service providers working with survivors of human trafficking.

Our team, Bharati Devkota LCPC, Priya Dhanani, MA, Lauren Stempler MA, and Dr. Hari Devokta created a program to address the staff needs called MOVE FOR CHANGE. Our goal is to train, educate and provide financial resources to mental health providers and staff, so they can make trauma-informed decisions and take a strength-based approach when working with their clients. Our intention is that this training will produce range of positive outcomes, including promoting mental health services and human trafficking prevention education in Nepal.

Dr. Hari Dekota, Bharati Devkota, Sydney Frymire


Our long term goal is to provide trainings in the United States for mental health clinicians which will include site-visits and field work in Nepal as well as bring Nepalese counselors to the United States for training. Our long term goal is to replicate MOVE FOR CHANGE around the world.

MOVE FOR CHANGE curriculum falls into three components:

Education: Defining human trafficking, understanding the neurobiology of trauma and implications for interviewing victims and how client behavior relates to trauma.

Best Practices: Providing trauma-informed care, including the psychological effects of trauma and how client behavior relates to trauma

Wellness Plans: Developing and implementing a self-care plan for service providers including dance, music and yoga.

In 2015, we began with a pilot workshop for 18 Shakti Samuha Organization staff members. http://shaktisamuha.org.np

Pilote workshop with Shakti Samuha staff 2015

Shakti Samuha is the world’s first organization which has been established and run by the victims of women trafficking. In 1996, the Indian government conducted a raid in the red light area in Mumbai and freed about 500 young girls from Nepal, India, and Bangladesh and kept them in government houses. The co-founders have won many awards including one comparable to the Noble Peace Prize. Charimaya Tamang, co -founder, won the ‘Hero Acting to end Modern Day Slavery’ Award 2011, which was presented by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Kyla Whitemore (Rebecca’s daughter) joined the group and made this video to help with fund raising.

Based on their request, in 2016, Bharati Devkota LCPC and and I conducted a 2- day training for 25 Shakti Samuha Staff members. In 2017, with the assistance of two willing TOYL group members, I gave a 1 day follow-up to further develop the wellness plans.