“Where the vision is one year, cultivate flowers. Where the vision is ten years, cultivate trees. Where the vision is eternity, cultivate people” Oriental Saying
Eva Capozzola is the first country director in Nepal employed by the Australian Association of the Forget Me Not Children’s Home. Her work began in January 2012 and almost immediately ‘orphan’ children in our care confided they had memories of their families. When this was brought to the attention of our then partnering organisation they coerced the children to remain silent about their pasts in fear that if the children were to be reconnected, they would lose their funding. DB Lama is the Executive Director of The Himalayan Innovative Society, Forget Me Not parter and nongovernmental, non-profit organisation working in Humla and other districts of the Mid-Western region of Nepal established in 2003 to promote positive change in the areas of education, health, culture and heritage preservation, tourism and human rights and Child Rights. Together, we are finding families.
How did you find out that some of the girls had families? Eva: When I first started with Forget Me Not in the beginning of 2012, I visited the girls regularly to spend time and get to know them. As our relationships strengthened and I gained their trust, they began telling me details they remembered about their relatives and the places they were from. Initially it was just passing comments from a few of the girls. I didn’t press for more details right away, but over time more of them shared increasingly detailed information; some joyful, some painful. This helped us understand the situation and develop our strategy to move forward for their best interest.
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Why is it so important to reconnect children with their birth families? Eva: In Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child, you will find it says that the right of the child to preserve his or her identity should be respected. In Article 9 it states that [all] shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will. Familial identity, and a sense of belonging are so important, especially in the cultural context of Nepal. For our girls, as they are growing older and into themselves, they have more and more questions about who they are, where they have come from, and where they belong. There is a strong child driven desire to answer those questions and to know their families. As an organization committed to child protection and children’s rights, it is our duty to respond to such desires and facilitate the process for these children and their families to know each other and move forward with their lives.
What is the difference you have seen in the girls who have been reconnected? Eva: Each reconnection has been so unique and so
special. Watching the girls meet their relatives for the first time in years is complete magic. These are the best moments of this work. I have noticed changes in many of the girls who have been reconnected. There is a palpable joy and excitement exuding from them, but there also seems to be a peace and calm. It is as if this empty space within them is starting to be filled.
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