In April 2015 Nepal was struck by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring nearly 22,000.  It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 earthquake. Nearly 3.5 million people were left homeless. 

As is often the case in the aftermath of natural disasters, vulnerable groups like women and children were targeted for abuse.  Child traffickers tried to abduct children who had lost their parents in the quake. The traffickers – often from overseas – came to Nepal to sell children into child labor, forced marriage and sexual slavery.  The Guardian reported that police in India “…have uncovered a human trafficking network that has sent hundreds of young women from earthquake-hit areas of Nepal to the Gulf, where they were forced into manual labour and sex work”.  The poorest people in Nepal were also targeted by organ traffickers who offered quick cash for people willing to sell their kidneys.

When the news of the earthquake reached the United States, many Dignity Health employees and partners were moved by compassion.  They contributed a total of $26,053 to Dignity Health Foundation to help victims of the earthquake. 

The funds donated to Dignity Health Foundation were given to support survivors that have been identified by local anti-trafficking organization in the earthquake-hit area.   In the district of Sindhupalchok, which was the worst effected, the residents are still trying to recover and rebuild.  Funds from Dignity Health Foundation could have a big impact on the lives of the trafficking survivors from this area.  When survivors of human trafficking return to their communities they are often vulnerable to become trafficked again because of stigma and poverty.  A sustainable livelihood for a few survivors would allow those young women to start a new life and would also serve as a role model for future interventions with survivors.

The funds were used to create a social enterprise to employee survivors. The Purple Group has conducted extensive research in the area and determined that a bakery would be an ideal business to establish in this area.  The project worked with survivors who have skills that could make them successful working at the bakery.  A professional trainer provided weeks of training for survivors and a business manager oversees the bakery.  The survivors received both job training and mentoring, which would allow them to advance into additional job positions in the future.  Once the business becomes successful, proceeds from this would be used to establish additional businesses. The Purple Group has plans to start a coffee shop in Kathmandu for the second business.