When I was six years old, I became an indentured servant—Kamlari. I worked in another family's home and was abused most days. When I was rescued six years later, I could not even communicate with my own family.
At 16, I got a second chance.
Room to Read helped pay my school fees, introduced me to a mentor and gave me life skills training to build my confidence.
I will graduate secondary school in two years. After that, my dream is to become a health educator to help empower more girls in my community.
Read the full story on our blog »
Suma wrote a song about her experience as a Kamlari, which she shared as part of 10x10, a feature film and social action campaign.
Impressed by the power of her song and her story, 10x10 invited Suma to New York City to perform at the 2012 Women in the World Summit, hosted by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
Her song opened the conference, on International Women's Day, at Lincoln Center. She earned a standing ovation two days later at the close of the conference, when she sang her song for a second time and was interviewed on stage.
Watch Suma's performance »
Stories like Suma’s are not uncommon—especially for girls.
In Asia and Africa, cultural traditions, safety concerns and sheer economics prevent girls from attending school, but for Suma—and the hundreds of millions like her living in developing countries—a quality education can be the difference between a life trapped in poverty and a chance at a brighter future.
Changing the world,
one girl at a time.
More than 500 young women across Asia
and Africa have already completed secondary
school and gained the life skills they need
to succeed through our Girls' Education
Meet three extraordinary Girl Graduates »
What is Kamlari?
Kamlari is an illegal—but still widely-accepted tradition in Nepal, whereby parents contract their daughters into indentured servitude for several years. Kamlari girls are unpaid, often abused and very rarely allowed to attend school. In Nepal’s Bardiya district, more than 600 ex-Kamlari are currently enrolled in our Girls’ Education program—back in school, where they belong.
Suma's story will be featured in the groundbreaking 10x10 film, which tells the stories of 10 extraordinary girls from 10 countries and written by 10 celebrated writers.
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See our work
Documentary filmmakers travel to Room to Read projects across Asia and Africa to tell the stories of children who are benefitting from our programs.
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