Building life after bonded labour

haliya man in front of his house
Baburam was given a chance at a new life after being released from bonded slavery

41-year-old Baburam* comes from a village in the north-west of Nepal. Baburam belongs to the Haliya community, who are some of the most discriminated and vulnerable people in Nepal. Baburam was born into slavery and spent his childhood and youth tied to his landlord, being forced to plough his land and unable to leave.

When the Nepal government abolished the Haliya system in 2008 a rehabilitation package was set up to support Haliya people to rebuild their lives. The rehabilitation package provides earthquake-resistant housing, farmland, employment opportunities, education and healthcare for victims of the Haliya system.

However, getting access to this scheme is not an easy task. Most Haliya are not even aware of the rehabilitation programme and their entitlements. Those who do, may not have the necessary documents or information to apply. Without support, many Haliya people fall back into debt bondage and other forms of exploitation.

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Slavery in Nepal: the Haliya system

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This was the case with Baburam, who after ten years of being formally free was still unable to access any benefits. He still worked for the same landlord he worked for all his life.

Anti-Slavery International and the in-country partner Nepal National Dalit Social Welfare Organisation (NNDSWO) aim to empower the Haliya community to access the rehabilitation scheme offered by the Nepalese government. Thanks to our work, Baburam and the people in his village were able to receive information about the different ways to access the rehabilitation package, including details about the application processes and documentation required.

With the support of our project, Baburam successfully managed to access the program, purchase his own land and build a house for his family.

Now Baburam is positive about the prospects of a better life. He sleeps comfortably in his recently built house, leaving behind those long nights confined to a leaking and fragile cottage. Baburam smiles and shares with us that, compared to his hut from the past, he now feels like he lives in a royal palace.

*name changed