Meeting a CNN Hero

By Christine Mackay

Chris and AnuradhaMany of you know that Crooked Trails had the honor of hosting Anuradha Koirala last month while she was in Seattle. Most people don’t know the background of how we were chosen for this honor.

Last November while I was in Nepal I met up with the Executive Director and founder of Friends of Maiti Nepal, Brigitte Cazalis-Collins and her husband and co-founder, Joe Collins. The Collins spent years living in Nepal, and now are back in the States supporting the work of Anuradha Koirala. When Anuradha won the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Award, their work load more than tripled. Calls came in from all over the world asking for speaking engagements. One of them came from a group of women in Portland, OR. So, Joe and Brigitte asked if I could arrange a few events in Seattle, since Portland was so close.

I had six weeks to prepare and began a fast series of phone calls and emails. With the help of Anuradha’s supporters, friends and colleagues I pulled together a series of speaking engagements, lectures, meetings, fundraisers, luncheons, and TV and magazine interviews. I feared the schedule was a bit too much, but was told Anuradha wanted to work while she was in Seattle. Needless to say I was pretty excited as the day drew near.

That excitement was quickly replaced by anxiety as the biggest snow fall of the year arrived the same time Anuradha did, quickly followed by a terrible ice storm. Half of all the events were cancelled. Despite this, Anuradha was still able to meet up with Bill Gates Sr. and his wife Mimi, John Culver of Starbucks and many other CEOs and supporters. Her final day had her speaking at two fundraisers: Crooked Trails in the morning and a gala event at Seattle Asian Art Museum that evening.

During all this rushing around and meetings, I was always amazed to see how Anuradha graciously met and spoke to everyone with the same attention and sincerity. Whether she was talking to a multi-millionaire or a 20 dollar donor, she met all with gratitude.

Anuradha event crowdHer message was clear at all her events: ‘Please join hands with me to stop this heinous crime of child sexual slavery’. At each and every event, the message was well received. Many of us have supported her work for over a decade, while some were hearing about the atrocities of child sexual slavery for the first time. Anuradha also let everyone know that, the work is not only to rescue girls; it is to prevent the trafficking of girls in the first place. With their border patrols, they stop at least 1700 girls a year from being trafficked. Maiti Nepal has many areas it needs funding for including: expanding the border prevention program, getting HIV treatment for the rescued girls, education and therapy, awareness programs and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Ten years ago, very few (if any) of the criminals were put behind bars because it is up to the victims -the girls themselves – to prosecute. Maiti Nepal has changed that. They bring these criminals to justice, putting over 3,000 of them behind bars, with another 1,500 in the pipeline right now. Each time Anuradha shared these statistics, those in the audience were obviously impressed and encouraged.

Anuradha is a true hero, someone who selflessly works on behalf of those less fortunate, to offer hope and justice, love and protection.

It was an honor to be a part of helping to bring awareness about the issue to the Seattle area and to help raise much needed funds. Although a few of the numbers are still coming in, we estimate we will have raised close to $25,000 for Maiti Nepal.

Maiti Nepal beaded bagsIf you were unable to attend one of the events because it was cancelled there are several ways you can Make a Difference.

Donate at Friends of Maiti Nepal: www.friendsofmaitinepal.org

Host a gathering. We will send you a box of beautiful beadwork the girls make and the DVD of the movie- The Day My God Died. Share it with your friends and colleagues. Afterwards, return the proceeds from the beadwork sale and the DVD. It’s easy. For more information contact Chris Mackay at Crooked Trails, chris@crookedtrails.org

Trek in Nepal and distribute flyers.  Please contact Friends of Maiti Nepal telling us the dates of your arrival and stay in Kathmandu, the place you are staying, the region where you will be trekking, and the number of trekkers who plan to participate. Friends of Maiti Nepal will make arrangements for Maiti Nepal staff to put together a Trekker’s Package and deliver it to your hotel.

Volunteer to build a school in Nepal. Crooked Trails offers volunteer travel programs to Nepal twice a year to build schools. An educated child is less likely to be trafficked. Programs are 10+ days in length. Click here to learn more.

Join a community action team. Contact Engage Washington to find out more about trafficking locally.

“If I look at the whole, I will not act. If I look at the one, I will”
— Mother Theresa

CT staff and Anuradha

CT staff and Anuradha

Photos by SOFIA PIEL

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