“Freedom for Every Inmate’s Child”
In Nepal, if a woman goes to prison and none of her relatives can care for her children, the children often accompany their mother to prison. Children grow up in the confines of jail cells without access to education, proper nutrition, warm clothing, and medical care.
The Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) in Kathmandu, Nepal was founded in 2005 by Pushpa Basnet, a young Nepali woman who studied at Kathmandu University. ECDC coordinates with jail administrators to rescue children from jail cells throughout urban and rural areas of Nepal. The children receive regular medical check-ups, vaccinations, and are enrolled in a local private school. Children have regular visitation with their mothers including during the holidays.
ECDC’s program is divided between two facilities. The kindergarten center cares for children under the age of 5 years old during the day. These children are still deemed too young to sleep apart from their mothers, but they are permitted to leave the jail each day for daycare, including educational programs, games, and nutritious meals. Children over 5 live year-round at the residential home and attend a local school. There are currently 42 children living in the residential home and usually 5-7 children in the daycare center. The children’s mothers work in jail to support their children’s education. They make elaborate Waldorf dolls, jewelry, and bags that are sold to support their children’s education.
If the child’s parents are released from prison, we make sure the mother is able to care for her child before they return to her. We make sure the mother can send her child to school, feed them properly, and provide a healthy and safe environment. We send the children back to their mothers only after they finish their school exams and we always follow up with these families to make sure the children remain well cared for. We visit her home and see the condition, how she is studying, and we support her in her education.
If the mother can not take care for her child , we suggest the mothers to do handicraft work with ECDC. We pay the mothers and their children stay in ECDC. The mothers can visit any time in ECDC, and if the mother becomes stable enough to take care of her child, she can take them back into her care.
ECDC helps children break the cycle of crime and poverty, and provides these children with the opportunity for an education, healthy development, and stability in life.