Helping Lalita: Defeating Child Trafficking in Nepal
Evening presentation by Lt. Col. Philip Holmes, anti-child trafficker and Founder, Freedom Matters
Drinks reception: 6:30 pm
Presentation: 7:00 pm
Close: 8:00 pm
The eldest of four children, nine-year-old Lalita lived a life of poverty and back-breaking drudgery following the death of her mother. Lured by Kajiman Shrestha's promise of bright lights, stardom and tall buildings south of the border, she took up an offer that was intended to provide her family with a better life. A few days later she was delivered from rural Nepal to an Indian circus. So began three years of slavery, violence and an unrelenting seven-day-a-week, three-performances-a-day routine — with an extra performance on public holidays. Dream had turned to nightmare for Lalita and the other children at the circus, where beatings would often be accompanied by the sound of circus revving motorbikes to drown the children's cries. Lalita (above, second left) is one of the lucky ones rescued from modern-day slavery by Philip Holmes' organization.
Lt. Col. Philip Holmes left a career in the British Army to set up a UK charity for Nepalese children in 1999. In 2004 he moved to live in Nepal, from which he conducted rescue missions into India to retrieve trafficking victims through raids on circuses. Beyond that, the organization cared for the survivors, rehabilitating them and turning their lives around. He has also established a social circus in Nepal which would provide the ultimate catharsis for Indian circus survivors — an opportunity to live the dream that was falsely promised to them by their traffickers. Lalita looks forward to taking part in Circus Kathmandu's first international tour to London in the spring, when she will get to see "tall buildings" after all.
Holmes will describe the unprecedented success of his organization's closure of a child trafficking route and discuss the plans for his new charity, Freedom Matters.