BYU-Idaho Radio · You can help fight human trafficking in India and Nepal
Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry, with an estimated annual global profit of $150 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Between 2008 and 2020, 30% of global human trafficking victims were children, with women making up 49% of all victims. Uneducated victims are far more likely to be kidnapped than other groups, and India is home to the biggest population of unskilled adults in the world at 287 million. That information comes from the website of the nonprofit organization Life Spark International.
Shyam Kumar learned some of this firsthand shortly after getting married when taking a trip from his home in India to help trafficking victims in Nepal. Recently he’d gotten a job which he was planning to stay with to help build a life with his newlywed bride, but something changed from what he saw on his trip.
“I was still in Nepal and resigned from my job because this impacted me so much,” Kumar said. “I was in Nepal, and before I got on a flight to home, I resigned. I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m done. I’m just going to do things here.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do, but that’s what it did to me.”
In years’ time, he did decide on something: to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping human trafficking victims not only be rescued but become educated and learn valuable life skills. He calls the organization Life Spark International.
In his work with Life Spark International, Kumar has built three schools with the intent to help empower trafficked survivors.
“I feel like when you go and visit people in these countries you realize at how blessed we are, you know? I mean, you and I don’t have to worry about whether we’re going to have water to drink, or, you know, food to eat or shelter over our head,” he said. “But these people, these girls … the moment they got kidnapped, their childhood was taken away from them.”
In India, when trafficked victims return, there often are very few opportunities for them, because they’re looked on in shame. Kumar built schools with the intent to help fight that problem. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, schools were closed for three years, and Kumar’s savings were utterly drained.
Now, Life Spark International is still doing work, though in some ways, it is trying to get back on its feet. They do annual expeditions for those interested in the work to see what goes on. Their next trip will be to Nepal from July 24 to July 30. If you’re interested in contributing to their cause, Kumar has a campaign on gofundme.com called “From Survivors to Thrivers” aimed at covering the expenses of rebuilding schools and covering expenses of Kumar’s work with trafficked victims.