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.
What an edifying start to 2013 we have had. Since I last wrote, we have spent six action-packed weeks travelling, visiting our partner NGO Base in the west of Nepal and then heading down to India for sun, sand and sea while the street food world recuperated from a gruelling 2012, ready for action after a January spent more or less in hibernation.