In 2013 along with our partner charity, AFESIP, we established three strictly private rehabilitation centres across rural and urban cities in Cambodia, to provide education and vocational skills for the girls who have been rescued from inhumane sexual exploitation, helping them reintegrate with society.
The Esther Benjamins Trust
In 2010, 24 Hour Race organisers approached the Esther Benjamins Trust, a charity that has been renamed to Child Rescue Nepal, to see if we could support Philip's work to emancipate children working in awful conditions in circuses. In three years, the team used 24 Hour Race to launch a series of rescue programs aiming to create a legal precedent against the trafficking of thousands of children in circuses in India. After years of preparation and gathering of evidence, Philip petitioned the Indian Supreme Court to outlaw the use of child performers. That ruling was finally made in April 2011. Children under the age of 18 could no longer be trained as circus performers.
In 2011, 24 Hour Race continued to support the Esther Benjamins Trust. Funds provided by 24 Hour Race were used to aid EBT to continue it’s programme to rescuing children in circus raids, and fight local traffickers in Nepal. In a major operation in December 2011 35 girls were removed from a circus in Kerala. Apart from raids, 24 Hour Race's funds helped provide an additional shelter home for 25 girls for 8 months and pay for their transport and education.
In 2012, 24 Hour Race sustained its support for The Esther Benjamins Trust. Together, with the funds raised, 24 Hour Race and The Esther Benjamins Trust helped establish “Circus Kathmandu”- a social enterprise and circus employing survivors of modern day slavery. In turn empowering the community, helping victims take control of their own lives.
Funding from Hong Kong’s 24 Hour Race has been supporting Freedom Matters’ mission to bring awareness and urgency to the rampant abuse within the orphanage industry in Nepal, where only a tiny fraction of children are believed to be actual orphans. They do so by conducting investigations into reports of bad practices, rescuing and caring for children, identifying their families so that these children can be returned and their communities educated and sensitized against the practice of sending their children away into these homes.
“Happy Home”, an orphanage in Nepal, first came to public attention in 2013. Its primary proprietor Bishwa Acharya was revealed to have been confining over 90 children in exploitative and abusive circumstances in the orphanage. Many of these children, as young as 4, had parents who were tricked into giving up their children. In conjunction with our partner charity Freedom Matters, as well as with other local associates, we launched our own undercover investigation and brought to light powerful evidence of child trafficking from poor villages on trekking routes to the north. In February 2014, we managed to have Bishwa arrested, as one of the most notorious child traffickers, on child trafficking charges for the first time in Nepal’s history, bringing the more than 90 children back to their families.