by Corban Bryant
A couple days ago, I had just finished registering PURNAA for Nepal VAT (Value Added Tax) and met this kid near the line of motorcycles outside the tax office. I couldn’t help but laugh at his T-shirt. I lived for almost a year in Delhi in 2010-2011, and I guess I sympathize with his message.
True numbers for unemployment are difficult to find, but most sources put Nepal’s unemployment at more than 40% and it’s GPD per capita at $1300 (just above Afghanistan’s and roughly equal to Haiti’s.) Is it any wonder that nearly every young person I meet in Nepal wants to leave the country? They all pay exorbitant school fees in hopes that they can build a resume that is capable of landing a job or scholarship somewhere else.
Unfortunately, the paradise dream in other countries usually doesn’t materialize; and Nepalis, desperate to find ANY work, settle for whatever is available (hence the t-shirt about Delhi.) Many go to India, the Middle East, Korea, and South East Asia. 1 in 6 Nepalis have already left their country. This means nearly every family has a member somewhere else. I used to think military deployment schedules were hard on families, but knowing your spouse, brother, dad, sister is working hard labor in the blistering heat in the Middle East and won’t come home again for 3 years because plane tickets are too expensive is hard for families.
Even harder, is that many Nepali’s are duped into terrible work environments and cannot leave. It is common for workers to have their papers confiscated (“for safe keeping”) by work foremen. This effectively scares employees into believing they cannot leave a worksite for fear of being arrested as an illegal alien (a very serious crime in some countries in Asia.) A few weeks back, Saudi Arabia offer amnesty to workers trapped in just such a situation; 13,000 Nepalis applied for the amnesty program within the first week. They work in terrible conditions, to send money home, so their kids can get an education and perhaps escape Nepal to someplace better.
PURNAA is not a “jobs program.” We are simply a business that believes in doing the right thing, especially for those that work within our company. But our hope is that the more business we do in Nepal, the fewer Nepalis will feel the need to go somewhere else.