Asia offers an astounding variety of travel destinations. There are so many, in fact, that it can be difficult to decide where to go first and which to miss because of time constraints. The reality is that it's impossible to cover them all in one trip unless you're lucky enough to have plenty of time and money to spare.
I am so sad to hear that another Gadhimai Festival will be held in Nepal this November. The festival, which is only about 250 years old, takes place every five years. At the last festival, in 2009, it is estimated that around 500,000 water buffaloes, goats and chickens were slaughtered, having their heads severed in a mass sacrificial killing. Families, including young children, came to watch the bloody spectacle. The sacrificial killing is held to please the goddess Gadhimai, to avert evil and bring prosperity. Animal sacrifice is banned in many Indian states, but people travel from northern India to Nepal with their animals to sacrifice them at the festival.
I had the role of Anita, another girl who finds herself imprisoned in a brothel in Kolkata... 20 million people are in some form of slavery in the world, of that 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation, 5 million are children. And this "industry" is worth $150 billion a year in illegal profits.
Every day, children in Nepal are at risk of being trafficked; a problem that is getting worse. Trafficked children face daily abuse and exploitation - harm that no child should ever have to face. It is our duty to ensure that children are aware of the dangers of trafficking and to protect them from being subjected to such abuse and exploitation.
Improving quality in Pakistan would also be a huge breakthrough. In rural areas many primary schools lack sufficient classrooms to provide a proper five year cycle: In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for example, more than half of the schools do not contain the requisite 5 classrooms (one per grade). If you were a parent, would you send your children to school, and keep them there, if school conditions meant that your children were unlikely to learn the basics?
Today I will be leaving Nepal for seven weeks to visit family and friends in the US. I will have completed almost five years as a VSO volunteer, in both India and Nepal, a remarkable journey that has remade me into who I am today. I never could have imagined what living in another part of the world would bring or what I might share with the many people whom I've met.
The stories from The Guardian reveal globalisation's ugly face. It is reported migrants from Nepal are being subjected to overcrowded living spaces, dangerous conditions and in some cases, are not being paid. It has also been revealed that workers wishing to leave Qatar are not being granted the ability to do so. The 2022 World Cup is being built on the back of exploitation.
The human trafficking industry - already the most profitable international criminal enterprise after the drugs and arms trades - is posting higher profits than ever. In 2005, UN estimated that it was a $32billion per year industry, based on International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people suffered from forced slavery.
Kanchi Tamang is a waste-picker in Nepal. A mother and a grandmother, she works long hours in unsafe and unclean conditions for a pittance. After contracting Hepatitis C, then developing painful gallstones, she faces the prospect of medical treatment that will require her to be absent from work and hospital bills that, together with the loss of work income, might mean that she loses her home and cannot support her family. Yet if she does not receive treatment, she might lose her life, not just her livelihood.