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A local acupuncturist and her husband are trying to help stop human trafficking.
Courtesy Diana and Ken Harbour
Helping see that children receive education is among the missions that the Harbours have undertaken in Nepal.
Laura Garcia | Laker Weekly
Westlake acupuncturist Diana Harbour and husband Ken Harbour help combat human trafficking on the India-Nepal border.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Diana Harbour is an acupuncturist by day and runs an overseas nonprofit organization by night with her husband. Their latest mission, Save the Daughters, focuses on preventing Nepali girls from being lured into the sex trade in neighboring India.
For the past 28 years, their ministry, Barnabas Fellowship Inc., has been aiding people in poverty-stricken countries. They continue to be a force for good in Asia.
Diana, a retired English teacher, serves as vice president and her husband of 37 years, Ken, is president of the nonprofit, but so they don’t financially burden the operation, they continue working day jobs. They run BlueCrane Acupuncture clinic in Forest, where they live, and recently expanded services to the lake, where Diana works one day a week at Westlake Salon and Spa.
The Harbour’s nonprofit is responsible for placing orphans in Christian homes in Nepal, constructing water wells and opening health facilities and Bible schools along the Himalayan mountain range.
Barnabas Fellowship has helped fund programs that teach women how to sew, train to be midwives or start their own businesses. Diane said she enjoys helping the girls there obtain access to education.
“It can change everything. We would like to see the girls viewed as far more valuable to the family,” she said.
When the Harbours started their nonprofit ministry in the mid-1980s, there was a lot of controversy surrounding overseas charities and how much money was really going to help the intended recipients, Ken said. Their ministry was doing very specific projects and was accountable to its donors, he added. Ken previously worked in the corporate world, where he learned investors liked that their projects model is a small but focused approach, Diana said.
“That’s why we spend so much time talking with our directors over there, because we don’t want to waste money on something that’s not going to work,” she said.
In early 2001, the Harbours became aware that thousands of young Nepali girls were being trafficked across the border, where they were sold, put into Indian brothels and forced to become prostitutes.
Nepal is wedged between the Chinese Himalayan mountains and surrounded by India on three sides.
Even if the girls return home, they face the high cost of treatment for HIV and can suffer social stigma in the villages. The Harbours launched Save the Daughters in 2009, working some of the year in Nepal and most of the time managing the nonprofit from Virginia by Skype and cellphone. Through contacts gained in previous missions, they were able to recruit Nepali men to work for the Save the Daughters campaign. These men know the language and their message is trusted by village people.
The Harbour’s message: Women are important. They shouldn’t be sold.
Diane said con men typically lie to poor Nepali families who live near the border, telling them that their daughters can earn money in India doing housework or other jobs. She said that as soon as the girls (many are ages 9 to 14) cross the border, they become sex slaves in an unfamiliar country where they can’t speak the language.
The Harbours started sending outreach teams to villages to educate them about the ruse. Over the last two years, the 16 teams have reached more than 42,000 people, according to Ken.
For more information, visit savethedaughters.org.
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