Report by Nirmal Mangar
A heartwarming reunion took place on May 3, when a 22-year-old tribal girl, who was trafficked to Sikkim as a domestic help at the age of 13, was finally reunited with her family after eight long years. The girl, whose name has been kept anonymous, was picked up from her village by an unknown person in 2015 and brought to Sikkim to work as a domestic help. Fortunately, she was rescued by the Child Line of South District and sent to a Child Care Institution.
Finding her family turned out to be a challenging task, as the girl had an intellectual disability and couldn’t remember any names of her family members. She stayed in the Kapinzal Children Home for eight years until the One Stop Centre under the Women and Child Development Department in Jorethang intervened and played a pivotal role in reuniting her with her family.
The One Stop Centre sent an intimation to Duars Expressmail, a local NGO in the West Bengal District, and the Social Worker cum Director of the said NGO, Mr. Raju Nepali, circulated the information to his sources to find out if any of her family members or relatives were still living in Hasimara.
The local social worker Mr. Rajesh Biswakarma, her family members were found in Hasimara. Through video calls and photographs, the girl was able to identify her mother, and her legal guardians confirmed that she had gone missing from their home in 2015. They had filed a verbal complaint with the local police station, but her whereabouts remained unknown until now.
With the approval of the District Collector Namchi, the One Stop Centre facilitated the repatriation of the girl to her home in Hasimara.
She was taken to her home by Sangita Gurung, Centre Adminstrator and the paralegal volunteer of One Stop Centre, Jorethang Aeromeena Lepcha and was handed over to her legal guardians at the Hasimara Police Outpost, PS Jaigoan, APD, in the presence of the Officer in charge, Hasimara Police Outpost, Circle Inspector, Kalachini Circle(APD), Malanki Gram Panchayat Members, Social Worker cum Director Mr. Raju Nepali of Duars Expressmail, and Social worker Mr. Rajesh Biswakarma.
The family had sent a letter requesting the repatriation of their daughter, as they were unable to come to Sikkim due to financial constraints. This reunion is a reminder that hope and humanity still exist, and that no one should have to endure the pain of separation from their loved ones for years