“Building Confidence in an Anti-Trafficking World” was a 3-day conference featuring me along with several Nepali leaders in the anti-trafficking movement: Rupa Chetri and the team from Redeem Nepal. The conference had several objectives, all of which were accomplished beautifully. One was to provide the Nepali context of human trafficking as well as a global overview of human trafficking. Another was to discuss human trafficking in the context of humanitarian disasters as well as prevention of trafficking in Nepal. A third objective was to provide an introduction to trauma and trauma-informed care, as well as discuss self-care for the caregivers. Over 70 participants (nearly all Nepali) hailed from counter-trafficking organizations and from other non-trafficking related organizations. Some were people working with abused and exploited people, and a few were interested in learning more about human trafficking and developing trauma-informed business practices.

The feedback received from the pre- and post-assessments was very encouraging. Everyone came prepared to learn and they were not disappointed. I warned them that due to the brief time allotted to the topics they will likely have more questions than they started with. The questions were well-informed but we ran out of time to attend to all of them appropriately. I guess I’ll have to return!

Many expressed satisfaction that they learned the basics of psychological trauma and how to start working with survivors in a safe way.

Others were interested to learn about the connection between humanitarian crises and human trafficking and how to prevent trafficking. Some others learned that men could be trafficked as well as women.

One question that came up in several different forms was, “How can we decrease the stigmatization of women who have been abused and exploited?”

A couple participants were counselors who work with survivors of abuse and exploitation but had little to no training in trauma and so they were relieved to learn more about what trauma does to the brain and how to address it in therapy.

Quite a few people had not realized that there was such a thing as secondary trauma and were glad to learn how they could prevent burnout.

In general, the participants were so hungry to learn about these topics and this is encouraging to me and the organizers. I hope that it won’t be too long until I return again.

Handing out certificates

During the week I was there I was able to join a network meeting of organizations sharing latest updates about their work, frustrations they are facing, and what the near future looks like. Exciting stuff!

This was not my first time to Nepal, but this time I saw through eyes with much more experience. I learned so much about Nepal – not just about the trafficking situation – but about the people and culture. Truly the Nepali are a lovely people and the country is a WONDER-FULL place. The renowned hospitality is legit.

The conference could not have been done without the help of Redeem Nepal who did all the translation of documents and translation for the speakers. Karin Feltman and Carole Sydnor were the on-the-ground organizers who, through their contacts, put it all together.

***note that photos are limited due to security considerations

Thanks to all of you for your continued support of counter-trafficking work and the development of trauma-informed practices everywhere! This conference and others like it cannot take place without your help!