Pushpa Basnet doesn’t need an alarm clock. Every morning, the sounds of 40 children wake her up in the two-story home she shares with them. As she helps the children dress for school, Basnet might appear to be a housemother of sorts. But the real story is more complicated. All of these children once lived in Nepal’s prisons. This 28-year-old woman has saved every one of them from a life behind bars.Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world — according to UNICEF, 55% of the population lives below the international poverty line — so it lacks the social safety net that exists in most Western nations. Space is extremely limited in the few children’s homes affiliated with the government. So when no local guardian is available, an arrested parent often must choose between bringing their children to jail with them or letting them live on the streets.
Since 2005 Pushpa Basnet has assisted more than 100 children of incarcerated parents. She runs a day care program for children under 6 and a residential home where mostly older children receive education, food, medical care and a chance to live a more normal life.
“I had a very fortunate life, with a good education,” Basnet said. “I should give it to somebody else.”