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“I was kept to work as the servant”

23rd February 2023 - 7 min read

Domestic slavery robs girls of their freedom and potential. Angel was only five years old when she was enslaved in Nepal. Today, she’s expanding her business and providing a future for her daughter and her community.

Laura Oakley
is Editorial & Content Manager at Plan International UK

Angel was born in Nepal and orphaned when she was just five years old. Due to poverty, she was vulnerable to exploitation and forced into domestic slavery. She found herself in strangers’ homes, looking after children when she was still a child herself.


"I was kept in other people’s houses to work as the servant, I had to do all kinds of household chores and take care of their children."

- Angel, 23


This system of enslavement is known as Kamalari, and was practiced legally by some communities in Western Nepal, until a mass protest movement saw it abolished over 20 years ago. In practice, many young girls are still vulnerable to this form of modern-day slavery, which is exacerbated by years of poverty and caste-related discrimination.

About Kamalari

Through Kamalari, landlords, business owners and civil servants take vulnerable girls away from their community and force them to carry out domestic chores and agricultural labour. In some cases, the girls work up to 18 grueling hours a day, resting only on the bare floor. They are generally paid in kind – often as two small meals a day.

The young girls can be sent to cities far away from their home villages. Some lose contact with their families for years. This isolation compounds the physical, verbal and sexual abuse commonly perpetrated against these girls.

Having previously campaigned to eliminate the practice of Kamalari in Nepal, Plan International is now also helping those impacted, like Angel, to overcome prejudice and create a life of their own in the aftermath of bonded labour.

Angel with her two-year-old daughter
Angel with her two-year-old daughter

Angel's ambition

Angel married when she was 19 years old, freeing her from Kamalari. But life has still been tough.

Angel’s husband works as a manual labourer and travels widely to find work. But the couple have a young daughter and this income isn’t enough to meet the family’s needs.

What’s more, Angel has continued to experience prejudice from her community – including from her husband’s parents:


"Because of being an orphan, I have faced many negative comments on me, and have faced contempt from my own family members."


Fortunately change is on the horizon for Angel – and it comes in the form of four little pigs.

Pigs and profit

Angel hopes to create a better future for her young family through training and financial support in pig rearing. This has been made possible thanks to Futuremakers by Standard Chartered.

Futuremakers is Standard Chartered’s flagship community engagement initiative dedicated to empowering the next generation earn, learn, and grow. Plan International is one of four strategic partners funded by Standard Chartered Foundation to deliver the Futuremakers project. In Nepal, it aims to support 120 young women like Angel with ‘work-ready’ skills and knowledge in locally-relevant markets so that they can earn an income. Pig rearing is Angel’s choice.


"I want to do pig rearing, I have four pigs and would like to expand my business for the better life of my family and for good education for my two-year-old daughter."

- Angel


To help people like Angel succeed, the Futuremakers project also works with parents, partners and family members. For example, Angel’s in-laws are now helping take care of her daughter and supporting with daily household chores so that she can attend training sessions.

Angel plans to expand her pig-raring business with support from the Futuremakers project.
Angel plans to expand her pig-raring business with support from the Futuremakers project.

A global initiative

The Futuremakers project delivered by Plan International is not limited to Nepal. Some 4,400 young people across China, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam and Zimbabwe are set to receive similar training through this partnership.

All the young people taking part stem from disadvantaged backgrounds – from previously enslaved women like Angel to those with visual impairments. That’s why protection is a central part of this engagement too.

All those taking part attend sessions on violence and abuse, and if they identify as having experienced this, they are signposted to further services and support – from counselling to legal advice.

The Futuremakers project hopes to give people who’ve experience unjust hardship a chance to shape their own lives.

Angel is one of many determined to seize it:


"I will be dedicated and do hard work to the expansion of my business."

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