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Birth Registration • Nepal • 2022
“I don’t know when I started working – all I know is that I used to go with my mother to sell vegetables. Sometimes I was too slow so I’d go with my father to the construction site instead. I think he got paid for my work.” Asha

Asha can’t remember a time when she wasn’t connected to the streets somehow. Growing up in Nepal, child labour is not uncommon, with her and her younger sister both going to work on the construction site with their dad most days a week. In their case, the stresses of not being able to meet the needs of their family lead her parents to become dependent on alcohol, which put further strain on the household finances. For Asha, this meant that as well as construction work, she’s also had jobs in catering to clean kitchens and washing dishes in local hotels.

After a while, the stresses of being at home and having to look after her younger siblings, as well as bring in money to the house for her parents became too much for Asha and she started spending time with some older girls who she met on the street, many of whom were working as commercial sex workers. Although Asha has never joined them in their work, being surrounded by that environment is not ideal for any young woman.

Compounding the challenges she and her siblings were facing, Asha had never been registered, so didn’t have an official identity or documents which would have helped her to access some of her basic rights such as education. Here, she explains her journey to getting her birth certificate and most excitingly for her, her Nepali citizenship.

“When I was younger, I was doubtful about my own nationality and felt lots of hopelessness about my future. I didn’t have the confidence to move forward and felt really depressed, really fragile.” Asha

"I didn’t think having a birth certificate was very important as it doesn’t help with financial support, which is what was most important to me. It was only when I met with SathSath that I realised the benefits that could come to me with my birth certificate. I didn’t realise that having a birth certificate was the only way I could be recognised as a citizen in my country – as soon as I knew that, becoming an official citizen became my goal and my dream.

The process was a bit hard. My parents are both alcoholics and when SathSath first visited them with me to start the process, they were unwilling to cooperate to help me and my siblings get our birth certificates. It took a long time and many visits from me and SathSath to eventually convince them to help us get the information we needed. The hardest document was their marriage certificate which is vital in Nepal for registration – this was because they’d been away from their village for so long in Kathmandu, they had no contact with anyone there anymore. Eventually, we found an old council member who had been at their wedding ceremony and he was able to confirm their marriage.

The SathSath team did not give up at all and they worked with the local government offices to gather all the information and permissions needed to get my birth certificate and my siblings’. In March this year, we were all registered and became official citizens of Nepal."

"My life has totally changed. I’ve had emotional support, I feel better and more hopeful for my future. Now I’m excited and happy because I can gain access to health care and social services. I can also access education and legal work so I can open up a bank account to save money as well as register to vote for my desired candidate in elections.

I have so many dreams now. I’m still working at the construction site but now, I want to join school to get an education for myself. After that, I want to earn money by establishing a tailoring shop and also to go abroad somewhere. I’ve found my happiness and my confidence has increased… Now, I actually want to make plans for the future.”

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