Pushpa Basnet found her inspiration early in life. At the age of 21, while an undergraduate at St. Xavier College in Kathmandu, Pushpa visited a prison as part of her internship program. A 9-month old child, playing on the prison floor next to her mother, reached up and held onto the hem of her dress, and Pushpa experienced the overwhelming sense that “this girl called me up. This was not the place for her to be living.” From this moment, Pushpa began a courageous journey to help the innocent children living behind bars in Nepal.
Pushpa, her sister, and a few friends quickly raised enough money to start a day care program for some of the children. Realizing this was not enough, Pushpa began to work with the incarcerated parent (primarily mothers), and the prison authorities, and gained their trust for the release of 2 children into her full time care.
From these humble beginnings, Pushpa, her ECDC team and her supporters have provided housing, food, education, clothing, and medical care, to over 140 children of incarcerated parents in Nepal. More than this, together they have created a warm, loving family for the children in their care.
Pushpa Basnet, called Mamu by the 40+ children currently living at the Butterfly Home, is determined to give these children their chance at a normal life, the opportunity to reach their potential. “These children have done nothing wrong. They are simply caught in something they do not understand… they deserve a better future.”
When a woman is incarcerated in Nepal and has no one able or willing to care for her children, she must choose between bringing her children to prison with her or sending them out to live on the streets by themselves, two unbearable options.
Many mothers have chosen to keep their children with them in prison, considered ‘the lesser of the two evils. Unfortunately, children growing up in the confines of jail cells do not have access to education, proper nutrition, warm clothing, and medical care. And sadly, these children are highly vulnerable to various forms of abuses as well as the multiple negative effects on their physical, emotional, and psychological development.
Living out their young lives behind bars, without schooling or appropriate medical care, these children suffer.
CNN Hero Award
Founder and President of ECDC
2012 CNN Hero
2016 CNN Super Hero
What We Believe
There are children growing up behind bars with their incarcerated parents in Nepal. These children are living out their young lives behind bars, highly stigmatized, without educational opportunities, nutritious food for their growing bodies, without playmates and without appropriate medical care. These children are suffering.
- We believe that innocent children should not grow up behind bars.
- We believe that every child deserve a loving, caring home.
- We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to fulfill the promise of their lives.
We believe that we are responsible for making this happen.
It isn’t easy. There are no quick solutions.
But we will not stand by silently and watch these children suffer.
We welcome your interest and hope that you will join us in this quest.
What We Do
Pushpa and her dedicated ECDC team coordinates with the government and the jail administrators, and works closely with incarcerated mothers, to relocate children from jail cells to a loving, supportive community on a temporary basis, until they can be reunited with their mother upon her release.
Founding of ECDC
May 24, 2005
Pushpa founds The Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), a registered non-profit in Nepal as a daycare centre.
July 2, 2006
Establishment of a residential home and kindergarten program for children ages 2 through 17.
January 1, 2009
Pushpa starts a program to teach incarcerated mothers income-generating activities.
December 2, 2012
Pushpa is awarded the CNN Hero of the Year Award. With the prize money she purchases a plot of land for the Butterfly Home
Waiting for Mamu
July 13, 2013
Pushpa’s story is told in the documentary “Waiting for Mamu” by Thomas Morgan and gains interest world wide.
June 24, 2014
Ground stone laid for the Butterfly Home and construction of a permanent home begins.
April 25, 2015
In April and May 2015 two massive earthquakes destroy 60% of the Butterfly Home, which was 4 months short of completion.