DANIEL ISLAND, S.C.–Daniel Island resident Amy Hines recently visited Nepal in the hopes of stopping child labor, indentured servitude, and sex trafficking. Along with a group of volunteers from Florida, Hines made the difficult journey to an extremely rural part of Nepal through a program called Mountain Child. "I first heard about the group at a fair at Seacoast Church. The woman there told me that 50% of kids in Nepal died before the age of 8," she said. "I felt like I needed to be a part of changing that." Mountain Child was founded by missionary Jack Reid, who saw a group of young children walking with a few adult men one day while he was hiking in Nepal. He discovered that these children had been sold by their families into a life of hard labor or sex trafficking. Hines says that children such as these are sold because their families need the money. Often, the human traffickers promise families that their children will be better off if they are sold. "They promise the parents that the girls will get a good education if they can go with the [traffickers]," Hines stated. "There's a lot of misinformation, and that's what Mountain Child tries to change." Hines saw first-hand what Mountain Child does on her March 2014 trip. "We were one of three teams that were there at the same time," she recounted. "My group's goal was to go into an area that had only been visited by Mountain Child two or three times before." Because the organization hadn't gotten to know the residents well, Hines and her group focused on building relationships. "We'd bring little trinkets…and try to learn more about them and their families." Mountain Child's goals are wide reaching. In addition to combating child trafficking and early mortality rates, the group also helps bring water, sanitation, and education into the region. The organization sponsors schooling in Kathmandu for both adults and children, who Mountain Child sees as the best ambassadors for their own people. The children attend a boarding school where they can learn in a safe environment, and the adults go to an extended program that focuses on basic knowledge such as crop rotation and public health. Additionally, the organization sponsors sewing and textile work for women in the region, so that they will have goods to sell to support their families. Mountain Child hopes that these efforts will allow more rural Nepalese to thrive through their own economic ventures, so that they do not have to sell their children in order to make money. Mountain Child serves extremely remote areas of Nepal, some of which can take more than 20 days to reach. On her trip, Hines flew into Kathmandu, then embarked on a seven hour bus ride. The final leg of the trip required a two-and-a-half day hike through mountainous terrain. Hines, a lifelong hiker, had to train for the strenuous conditions in Nepal starting in November of last year. "I would go hiking on the Cooper River Bridge with a pack that I would make heavier and heavier each time," she said. The week-long trip made a serious impact on Hines, and she is currently in the early stages of planning to return to Nepal through the same organization. "I wanted to help however I could," she said. "But I'm not a doctor!" She does, however, have some very valuable skills that she will be drawing from when she goes back. As a former ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, Hines will be helping Nepalese adults and children learn basic English. "Many of them are illiterate in their native language, too," she said and acknowledges that any amount of language that can be taught is extremely valuable. For more information on the organization, visit MountainChild.org. If you'd like to learn more about Hines' upcoming trip or find out how you can join in, email her at: email@example.com
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