The 4th of July is coming up – our family has decided to trek up to Avon, MN for the outdoor 35th Anniversary show of A Prairie Home Companion – and while we’re up there we’ll bike on the Lake Woebegone Bike Trail. We’re looking forward to it – we’re taking the dog and staying overnight in St. Cloud so we don’t have to rush.

APHC has a soft spot in my heart. Yes, it’s corny much of the time, but I love it. When I first moved to NYC from Ohio in 1982 it was Winter, I was lonely and missing home dreadfully. I worked alone on weekends in an office cataloging and filing, and while I worked I had the radio on and stumbled on A Prairie Home Companion. It was, seriously, like a trip back to the midwest, and I fell in love. How odd that here we are – right in MN – huh?

[Speaking of MN, I’m not ignoring Al, I’m SO proud and happy for him! Another Midwest / NY / Midwest traveler, he will be a spectacular senator. He’s intelligent, clever, has a big heart and a clear eye. I’m hoping for big things from Mr. Franken.]

Independence – freedom – liberation – are words that get knocked around a lot for various political purposes, but here’s something I ran across that moved me tremendously.

If you have a daughter – as I do – think about what you would do in a similar situation. If you can help out, excellent. If you can’t, you can still help by spreading the word. In the same spirit of Greg Mortenson (3 Cups of Tea) we can each add a drop of love to the cup.

Let’s create an ocean of compassion.

I think of these girls and I want to bring every one of them home. And teach each one to knit.

Give vulnerable girls in western Nepal the chance for an education and a future instead of a life of indentured service.

In the Dang District in western Nepal, many indigenous families from the Tharu ethnic group subsist as farm laborers. Unable to make ends meet, they have been forced into a desperate trade — selling their daughters to work far from home as bonded servants in private homes or as dishwashers in tea houses. Some of these children are as young as six.

Alone and far from home, these “indentured daughters” have no knowledge of the ways of city people or of other cultures. Most speak only the local dialect. Their living conditions are entirely at the discretion of their employers. The bonded girls seldom attend school and have no prospects for a decent future. Some are ultimately forced into prostitution.

Working closely with local communities, the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation (NYOF) and its founder, Olga Murray, provides a creative, humane alternative for these families, by compensating the families for their daughters’ lost wages and by supporting the girls as they attend school.

Seven years after the launch of the program, almost 3,000 young girls and their families are participating. Of these, about half have been rescued by NYOF and the remainder by another charitable organization it trained in its methods. This means that 3,000 little girls have been brought home to live with their families and attend school instead of working in the homes of strangers.

Almost as important as the rescue of the children is the vigorous awareness campaign to turn the community against the pernicious practice of child bonding. NYOF’s greatest allies are the returned girls themselves. They have organized themselves into clubs that actively discourage parents from selling their daughters. They have written street plays that describe their suffering while they were bonded laborers, and perform them in the villages, especially during the Maghe festival, the traditional time for bonding child labor. In the Deukhuri Valley of the Dang District, whereas in prior years hundreds of girls were sent off at Maghe, to NYOF’s knowledge, not a single girl went off to work last year.

It takes only $50 to rescue a girl from virtual slavery, bring her home to live with her family, pay her school expenses for six months, and compensate her parents for her lost wages. $100 pays these expenses for a year, while $350 rescues a girl and supports her education for six years, so that she can graduate from the 10th grade and have the necessary tools to support herself. Your donation covers her school uniforms, books, school fees, and a kerosene lamp and kerosene — highly valuable items in a region lacking electricity.

In the meantime, however, NYOF is in the heartbreaking position of having to turn away girls who want to enroll in the program simply because its budget will not stretch far enough.

Give a girl a new life. Support a rescued daughter for six months ($50), a year ($100), or for six whole years ($350), taking her through 10th grade and the start of an independent life.

The Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation (NYOF) is a U.S. based nonprofit organization devoted to bringing hope to the most destitute children in Nepal. With a personal touch, NYOF provides them with what should be every child’s birthright — education, housing, medical care, and loving support.

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