A special invitation that meant so much to me. It is my second year working with Maiti Nepal against human trafficking and violation of human rights of the child. It has been the best, most meaningful time of my life so to get an invitation to attend the World Children’s Prize ceremony lead by HRH Queen Silvia of Sweden was something extraordinary. The prize is often mentioned as the Children’s Nobel peace prize. The ceremony is held in the beautiful Gripsholms Castle in Mariefred, Sweden followed by a banquet dinner at the Gripsholms värdshus.
Maiti Nepal themselves, won the award in 2002 and has since then been part of the child jury each year. Many children around the world take part in this global vote, and the biggest year ever 7.1 million children voted. It is not only in western and calm countries where the votes take place. During the ceremony this year, we were informed that close to 300.000 children in the instabil country of Sierra Leone had still managed to get to their voting station to make themselves heard. That is something.
The child jury is flown in for the official ceremony and this year Neeta from Maiti Nepal was there together with children from Philippines, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Congo, Israel, Mozambique and Pakistan. In total 12 children from 12 different countries and all of them specialists in the field of the human rights of the child due to their own experiences. The evening took us on an emotional roller coaster with beautiful music and dance performances by children from gang ridden high crime suburbs in Cape Town along with footage from this year global voting around the world. We were also presented with some horrific first hand stories. Of course the biggest issue is the sexual exploitation of girls but I want to tell a story that affected me a lot. The story of Dieu-Merci from Congo. “One day on his way to school the school bus got stopped and gerilla soldiers came on board. They took all the little boys out in the forest and forced them to become soldiers. Dieu-Merci was 7 years old when this happened. He spent 4 years in the jungle as a boy soldier. He told us that he tried to escape once but was captured and after that, he never dared to try again. One night they got captured in a fight with military soldiers. “All gerilla was told to get down on our knees, and they started executing us one by one”, he says and continues: “When I was next, I suddenly screamed: I am not a soldier, I am a boy and I was kidnapped.”
The military heard Dieu-Merci and he was spared and rescued. Now 5 years later he is working to help other boys going through what happened to him. This story is only one of the captivating stories we were told first hand from the children at the gala at Gripsholms Castle in Mariefred, Sweden.
I learned a lot during this evening from both the children and the nominated. This year’s nominated heroes have all 3 done amazing work to help exposed children. What an achievement in life. I salute them! Gabriel Mejía Montoya, Rachel Lloyd and Valeriu Nicolae.
I will leave you to read about their amazing work yourselves on World Children’s Prize Foundation.
It has been just over a month since I returned from Maiti Nepal and what turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. Adjusting to life in Europe after what I experienced on this journey has been hard. I have found it difficult to find words to my feelings and emotions and trying to write has been almost impossible. Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook, like so many posts we see every day. It was of a young Asian girl with an old man walking hand in hand. The photo caught my attention. It had already created a storm of comments of all sorts. I was left feeling like most people here in our Western world really haven´t got a clue. Just because a girl has a smile on her face, we think she is happy.
So today I woke up with the urge to give you all a little recommendation on a book that you should read. It is called: Radhika´s story. Incredible book.
I met Radhika and her son Rohan during my visit in Nepal and I have also found a sponsor for little Rohan who is now 12 years old. They came to Maiti Nepal when Rohan was 4 years old and still when I met Rohan, he was speaking very quietly and is very timid but with a cheeky little smile. Radhika was trafficked as a young girl and gave birth to Rohan in the brothel where she was forced to work. Often it is the children of the trafficked girls that are used to force the mum´s to comply with the brothel owners orders. Little Rohan was subsequently torture as a baby to make his mum work with a smile on her face and not cause problems.
We need to see further than what our eyes see and then we all know that no young girl would want to become a prostitute. Don´t fool yourselves please.
Our flights are now booked and I am so excited! We will fly out from London-Heathrow on the 21st November and be away for 2 full weeks. The flight goes via Muscat, Oman to Kathmandu with Oman Air . So far we are 4 people travelling. My sister is coming along. To share this special moment with her is just the best feeling. (Once again, I want to emphasize that all expenses for our trip is paid with our personal money, not from raised funds)
Vaccinations, hmm… I have just had them all prescribed from the Sanidad Exterior in Malaga and it is literally everything. Re-boost of Hepatitis A and B along with a Tetanus boost. Then cholera, tyfoid fever and dengue fever. Malaria is not necessary all over Nepal, only in certain areas, so for this I bring some tablets that you take only when/if travelling to the red zones.
I have so far raised close to 45,000€, and I am determined to make it past my goal of 50k before the trip in November! Stay tuned for more upcoming events where you can support Maiti Nepal and help me achieve my goal or simply make your donation HERE
xxx Lots of love
Just a week after my biggest charity event so far and I am just starting to get back to normal again. The organization of this event took nearly 4 months and I never imagined it would be so much to keep on top of. The day of the event my nerves were on “red alert” but now a week after I am so proud of what we achieved!
187 paying guests attended the gala, including myself and my team, as we also paid our ticket like everybody else. We raised over 36.000€ on the night from ticket sales, auction and wish tree gifts. The Ronaldo shirt was sold for 4000€, Chelsea “Diego Costa” shirt and “Dele Alli” Tottenham shirt went for 1000€/each and the EastEnders sign with the entire cast autographs went for 900€. More items auctioned were car and race track days, facelifts and a luxury holiday in Thailand, along with art from one of Belgium´s most famous artists, Hannes D´Haese and underwear supply with your own underwear line in your name from Boux Avenue.
The support and response has been overwhelming and it feels so amazing to be able to stand up and fight for such an important cause. This is bigger than anything I have ever done before! I cant wait to go to Nepal in November and see the smiles we have been able to give and the lives we have been able to save.
“Take every child as your own daughter, and soon you will feel her sorrow, and then you will feel the strength that comes out of you to protect them”
This past week was been full of happenings and Friday, we hosted our first big charity event at La Sala Banus . It was a big fashion show lunch with the latest collection from Gunnel´s Fashion and Caroline Azzi jewellery. The response was fantastic and already 3 days beforehand we were fully booked with a waiting list! We had a big list of sponsors that donated some lovely prizes to our charity raffle. One prize many had their eyes on was the private golf lesson with golf pro Michael Campbell.
We raised over 3000€ for Maiti Nepal at the event and both myself and Claudia were both over the moon. The aftermaths of the event has been equally great with so many thank you e-mails and phone calls along with a huge spread on social media from happy guests. It feels amazing to have such support here in Marbella. Check out our new hash tag: #maitinepalmarbella for info on upcoming events and photos from past events!
Below is an article published this week in SUR in English and a link to a TV interview with myself and Claudia on Estepona TV: Café y Thé interview
This past weekend our first fund raising event for Maiti Nepal took place. We were invited to join the Swedish Church in both Fuengirola and Marbella for their Sunday service. It was such a beautiful day filled with many fantastic and genuine people.
We started at 11 am in Fuengirola, the main home for the Swedish church on the Costa del Sol. Even though this Sunday was the important skiing race, Vasaloppet on TV, live from Mora in Sweden, the church was almost full. The service went on for about one hour in which we gave an introduction of what Maiti Nepal stands for and how they help in the fight against human trafficking. We also enjoyed beautiful live music and the priest gave a nice ceremony. We had a fantastic response after the service with questions and interest. It felt very rewarding and the collection from the day was more than double of that on a normal Sunday. Thank you all so much for the support!
From there we raced down to Restaurante El Gamonal in La Quinta for the Marbella service, together with priest Michael and his wife Lena who plays the piano and has an amazing voice. In Marbella there will be a church ceremony held every 14 days. The number of visitors were higher than expected so we had to get extra chairs brought out for everyone to have a seat. Again a great service with lovely response and we had the pleasure of listening to my friend Peet Rothwell ( www.peetasbuble.com ) singing two songs from Michael Bublé. Especially the song “I wanna go home” gave a beautiful message to the audience. The wish of all the young women and children that are held as sex slaves somewhere out there, is to be able to go home. Together we can help make that dream come true for some of them .
Donations can be made on: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marianne-steneholm
Today on the very first of January 2017, I want to tell you about my project for this year, so please take the time to read my story below donation link. I have big hopes in my ability to make a difference for these girls. I also want you to know that I will go to Maiti Nepal’s shelters and meet the girls and show you where your money has been used. I will prove to you all that any gesture of kindness, no matter how small, will make a huge difference in someone’s life. Help by donating on: We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone
The cruel reality is that more than 15,000 women and children a year are trafficked from Nepal and 150-300,000 Nepalese girls are currently estimated to be in brothels in India. 7- 24 years of age and servicing up to 50 men/day. Most are kept in cages. Maiti Nepal funder, Anuradha Koirala, has dedicated her life to these victims and her achievements so far are truly admirable.
Maiti Nepal focus on prevention of girl trafficking . They raid brothels to rescue victims. 496 traffickers have been convicted due to Maiti Nepals legal efforts. They go to jail for up to 18 years. Maiti Nepal also try to educate civilians as well as the police force in the high risk areas. They rehabilitate the victims and teach them new income-generation skills such as bead work, sewing, horticulture, furniture making, baking and cooking and they are provided shelter until they are ready to stand on their feet.
Maiti Nepal currently operate 12 intervention posts in the border areas to rescue the girls before reaching their end destination and with help from rescued girls, they can find the routes used and help recognize traffickers. The cost to operate a border transit home for one year is 20.000$ but the impact it makes is worth every penny.
I say: Stop Human Trafficking! If you have access to read this post, you have the means and possibility to make a difference.
“Take every child as your own daughter, and soon you will see her sorrow and then you will feel the strength that comes out of you to protect them” – Anuradha Koirala