Waiting for Mamu (2013) - full transcript
In some parts of the world, children whose parents are sent to prison and who lack other guardians are locked away along with their parents. This eye-opening documentary tells the story of what it means for a child to grow up in prison and what hope exists for a better life. "Waiting for Mamu" follows internationally-lauded social worker and 2012 CNN Hero of the Year award-winner Pushpa Basnet, founder of a development center for children who would otherwise grow up behind bars in her native Nepal.
So now we are on the ground floor.
And this is our office.
Here you can see lots of
articles of our work.
Looking at my childhood, I was a
bit kind of naughty person.
If I wanted to do anything,
I would just go for it, you know.
I would not say
I would not think about it
Should I do it or no?
But I would just go for it.
So I was studying for my Bachelor in
Social Work from St. Xavier's College.
It's one of the most reknowned colleges.
I don't know how I got through it.
For me, also it's surprising -
I don't know how they selected me.
But I choose social work.
Because everyone said it's an easy subject.
You just have to go to college for 3 days.
And you just go to field work for 2 days.
So you don't have to spend much time in your college.
At that time I was placed in Kalimatu Police Station.
It was a women's cell.
So what I asked one of the officers
Please, can you just take me inside the prison.
Because in our mind, when you talk about jail
It's like the big walls with the bars and everything.
So, I wanted to see.
So, when we went to the prison
I was a bit nervous and I was a bit scared.
And one small child, she was
just down on the floor, you know.
And I just grabbed her.
In our country, like, the culture.
It's not a big thing to just go
and hold anyone's child.
Just, you know.
Touch them. It's nothing here.
But, one of the people from the prison
They said, "Don't hold her."
And I just dropped her down, you know.
Because I was scared.
But when I turned back my body
She just hold my clothes, you know.
So I turned back and she just gave me a big smile.
She was just an 8 month old girl.
And I felt like she had that light in her face.
She had that magic, you know.
So what I thought is like
I should do something for these children.
And that's how things started to change.
Sometimes you get those feelings, you know.
When she just held my shawl
I felt like she was calling me.
Don't leave me.
I don't want to stay here.
You are the one to help me out.
You should do something.
And for me it was like
I had to do something.
More than me
She is the one who made me do this.
She is the one for me.
I stand here.
Just because of her.
Pushpa, I remember her being somewhat bullied.
I saw teachers
I saw friends and families
How they treated her.
And she never gave up
Even if she fell down
She would rise up
And walk away.
From early on, from her school life
She saw more failure than success.
I think for her, these kids is a reminder.
That an average person, or below average
Could do better.
And for Pushpa, these kids is like somewhat her past.
Where people have looked down upon her.
And she wants these kids to do good
Because she has done good
Today they are here because
what their parents have been doing.
Knowingly. Unkowingly. Their parents
have done a crime or a mistake.
But, I would not want the
same thing happen to them.
What he sang was about a mother and a child.
He talks about if Mom's bangles are
broken down, don't worry about it.
One day I will come fast.
And I will come back to you
I have to work hard, so that is
the reason I am far away from you.
Now it's already been two yeas
that Dev's been to our place.
And Dev has been referred from the government.
Actually, his father has
killed his own wife.
One day he said, "Do you know what happened to my life?"
And I said, "What?"
My father killed my mom in front of me.
He chopped her into pieces and
he made her very small small pieces.
So some of the children have a really painful story.
I was sad. We didn't know what was going on.
Mom said she would return in the evening.
But she didn't come.
Namaste. My name is Biraj Gurung.
My future is to be a British solider.
So I am training in a British soldier.
No. Yes, I am training.
I am doing training. Thank you.
Mommy had opened a hotel
And I don't know what happened, but...
The police came and took her.
Why did they take her?
Where are your dad and mom?
Pokhara. They are in jail again.
Prashna, his father, is in prison in Pokara.
For trafficking the skin of illegal animals.
His father has to stay in a prison for 15 years.
These children come from various
backgrounds, with various stories.
But when they come out here...
In this house, you don't talk about your family.
But it's like, this family.
We are a family.
Today, if they work hard
And if they see what is their future
Tomorrow, for sure, like you know,
whatever their parents have done
Everything will be hidden, you know
Because of their good thing.
Whatever happened is the past.
Don't blame us for what our parents did.
It's not our fault.
Pushpa Mamu told us that.
Since I have lived here
It keeps changing.
But right now, I want to become a social worker.
And sometimes I want to become a photographer.
And sometimes I want to be an office receptionist.
It keeps changing.
But mainly, I will be a social worker.
And I will always help ECDC.
And help Mamu.
I have been living here for 6 years.
I feel good about my daughter. I am happy.
Sad part is that I worked hard in a hotel
to make sure my children went to school.
And I was sent to jail.
There were junkies and villagers
who used brown sugar (heroin).
And I got trapped in all of that.
When I was living in prison, I was
happy because I was with mommy.
But even though mommy was there,
there were still four walls...
Behind which we were.
And we couldn't see anything.
We had to always be suffocated in a single room.
Then I'd feel bad.
In Nepal, lots of crimes are
done by the women.
Because they don't have education.
They don't have resources
Crime like trafficking
Trafficking human beings to India.
Even selling their own daughters.
And relative's daughters.
And dealing with the drugs.
Soon Laxmi's mom is going
to come out from the prison.
But Laxmi, she doesn't want
to go back to her family.
So, I am happy to have her in ECDC.
But we need to have their own house.
The children need to have their own house.
So that they feel like their future is secure.
Right now we are staying in a rented place.
Since I've opened ECDC from 2005
We've been shifting from one place
to another more than five times.
And I always worry about this.
It was quite difficult that we had to
leave certain houses because
The neighbors or the house owner did not want us.
They thought we were just running
a small organization or kindergarten.
But later on when she said,
"No, this is only for prison children."
Then they are like, "Okay, their parents are criminal"
"And they will not turn out good."
"I think you should just leave" kind of thing.
What would hapen to these children
if they don't have a place to go?
Would Laxmi go back to the prison?
Or would Biraj go back to carrying
concrete and not going to school?
And Prashna and Neha. Would
they just be on the street?
The children need to have their own house.
If they have their own house
People would not tell them to leave this house.
What do you expect from ECDC when you are out?
If possible, I want my child to stay there.
Laxmi will do something and make
something of herself, I think.
At ECDC, I have found change.
My life before and my life now is very different.
Mamu is bigger thn mommy for me.
She has changed my life.
She has taught me things that I did not know before.
And she has forgiven me for all
my mistakes that I have made.
She has given me many teachings
and has taught me about human nature.
I really think highly of her.
Saturday? On Saturday?
I heard that there is going to be a momo (dumpling) party.
Here when there are momo parties, it's a lot of fun!
Hosina was 18 months when I got her here.
Her Mom was living in the prison and
Hosina, she was also living in the prison.
I had her for a long time.
But it was time for her to go back to her family.
Because her mom had come out from the prison.
In my mind, I wanted to keep her with Mamu, and
finish her education there. That was my thinking.
But husband didn't agree, so I brought her home.
I would definitely like to have Hosina back to me.
But, I need to see the safety of Hosina's Mom's life also.
Because, some way Hosina's Mom might
feel safety having her daughter with her.
Because having your children with you,
your husband won't do anything.
Two years back, Hosina's father
was trying to kill Hosina's mom.
He beat her in such a bad way,
you would not imagine.
You know, tied her with rope and everything.
And Hosina, and Hosina's brother
went to the police station
And reported to the police,
and they saved their mother.
I feel that
Hosina's father will abuse Hosina.
I can feel that.
He is a depression patient.
I feel very sad for his illness.
When Hosina's mother claims that
The husband is suffering with
nerves, disease, or something
I know that he is taking drugs.
It's only me who has been looking after the
household since he got ill. It's been more than 10 years.
I feel like my soul is dead.
How do you feel at home now?
When I am home
I don't like it a whole lot.
I feel like visiting here (ECDC) often. I want to come and go.
I like it here a lot.
Sometimes, it's really bad to say that, but
But in reality, they come back.
Tomorrow, if their parents come in this door
These children will never come.
They'll never look back on me.
Because they are happy to stay with their parents.
This is the reailty.
I know the reality.
That's the reality.
And that's the most painful for me also.
At the initial time, I used to cry, you know,
when the children used to leave this place.
I used to cry.
But that was the reality.
What can I do?
She actually thinks these are her kids.
She believes that when she says that.
So it is quite hard for her
when children are going.
Even now, Mamu looks after us when we are in need.
Hosina's education - she completely takes care of it.
But even when I go and ask Mamu for other
help when needed, she helps me out.
On top of taking care of her studies.
When I am there and I say I am in need, she never says no.
Or asks me why I need the money.
She is like a mother to me.
Biraj, how many did you eat?
I had got a call from
the police regarding a girl
And a mother who was caught by Interpol police.
Saying that she was caught with the drugs.
And the police said to me,
"This girl can't speak."
"And she looks a bit different."
And maybe I am being biased
But when it's a girl, I have a different feeling for them.
Because I am a girl also and I am a daughter.
And I can feel how society looks at you.
So, I told my staff
We are going to have a new girl
And they were like, "Oh, we should think about it."
"Having this girl whose differently abled."
And I said, "C'mon."
Just in one case.
One is my failure case.
I could not have her.
Because the government people could not understand.
They could not understand.
Simply could not understand.
It was such...
They could not understand what I was trying to do.
And that's the only one I have so far.
Till now, I don't have. One is the case.
And that's my
That's my big regret.
Just because of her
I can't say no.
I know that I need to have my limit.
But, it is very difficult to say no, because
you are working for those children.
And you see someone who is suffering.
I can't say no.
For me, I can't say no.
I say, "Okay, tomorrow I am going to come and pick her up."
She was so happy that she's going somewhere else.
And, her mom
She didn't have much reaction.
She was not worried about her daughter.
And I was really sad about it.
I feel sad for her. But, then again
There is a
There is a sense of anger towards her.
Because when I said, "Do your time in this jail"
"And then come out clean."
She said, "No, I am not going to come out clean."
So there are times when the parents
They have given up, and they don't care.
I feel so sad for her.
Maybe for you all, she might just
come out as a very ruthless person.
Who is not caring about her child.
But look at her. She did not
have a good childhood.
For all of us sitting here, it's easy to say
"Well, she could have worked somewhere.
She could have done this and that."
Because we all have so many opportunites.
But for her, she did not have
any education or opportunites.
These are all the factors that
Many people in Nepal do crimes and get into things.
Seeing Neha's mom
I really feel bad about her life.
But, it's really sad to see how she thinks about Neha.
If she would not have come to ECDC
She definitely would be trafficked.
Now, after coming to ECDC
We took her to the hospital.
I showed her one of the best doctors.
To see whether she can speak.
But it was really sad to see that
One of the nerves had died
already inside of her throat.
Because taking overdose of the drugs by her mom.
Now every week, she's going for speech therapy.
And the doctor is a very well qualified doctor.
Her cheecks can't go inside and
she can't blow them out.
She has to exercise the thing.
And we also have to help her.
How old are you, and what is your name?
What is my limit now is
I have 44 children, you know.
I don't have so much resources.
I need to see the recources.
There are more than 80 children still in the prison.
Waiting for me to come and get them.
And I want to help them.
But, I need to have security
for the children I already have.
I don't have enough resources to bring in more children.
Because we are spending so much money on the house rent.
I know and we all know that
Fooding and all, we could arrange it. We could cook.
We could do a small kitchen garden and everything.
But it is quite difficult for her to raise money for rent.
I worry about making the rent. Yes.
But I also know that
If I continue to give to these children
People will continue to give to me.
I feel very happy looking at my older daughters
And the smaller ones looking after
Neha and showing her things.
Which is a good way of sign, you know.
How I am treating my daughters.
In our ECDC
We have a Home Captain from
the boys' and from the girls' side.
And we have a Vice Captain.
Both from the boys' and girls' side.
Right now, Manju is the captain.
And so far, like, Manju is like
My name is Manju Balakoti. I am 17 years old.
I live in ECDC. I study in grade 7.
I am older than the rest, and that's
why brothers and sisters listen to me.
I like playing with brothers and sisters a lot.
I want to know what's going on with them.
And they too, maybe because I am the captain, treat me well.
They are close to me. And I don't feel like I have
too much responsibility. In fact, I feel so happy...
That I am the eldest amongst all, and that
everyone listens to me, and I like it a lot.
Before I came here my life was sad I would say.
Mommy was in jail. Dad had also left.
Because there was no money for rent, the landlord had
kicked me out, and that's how I ended up here.
Without my dad and mommy, it was difficult to eat.
And I ended up working as a construction worker.
Are you sad that you can't see your children?
Of course I am sad that I can't meet my own children.
What do you want your daughter to be?
Not an illiterate like me. I want her to be educated.
I want her to be knowledgeable.
I am here for 20 years to spend my life here, and
one of the reasons for it is because I am uneducated.
I hope that does not happen to her.
Education is the most important thing for them.
In our country, without education,
you can't do anything.
You don't get a job.
They don't see you in a good way
if you are not educated
So they should learn why
their parents have done crime
Because of lack of education.
Because they have never had an education oppurotunity.
For Laxmi, Manju, Biraj
I can say
Whatever you have passion for right now
Go for it.
Don't look back. Go for it.
I'll be always there for them.
Manju, she wants to be a lawyer.
Because she wants to fight
for her mom's case.
These children, what they feel is
whatever crime parents have done
In some way, deep in their heart
They feel like that's their parents, you know.
They forget everything.
But the older ones, they do not
like to repeat the same mistake.
Dad keeps leaving us, and going to Jhapa.
He is always leaving us.
And it was tough for my mommy
When dad left again, people said all kinds of stuff to mommy.
Mommy would cry a lot. I would feel like crying too.
And around that time, it was tough.
What I want to tell my dad is
Papa, come to meet us.
Whatever has happened,
whether mommy has done something or not
We have all suffered. That's why you
should come meet mommy. Come meet us.
I love you a lot.
Brother also keeps looking for you.
Come meet me. I would tell him that.
My older daughters, they are also getting old.
I have to see their future also.
If they come back and if they say,
"I would like to open another center."
Then for sure, I would go for it.
Pushpa Mamu, I like very much.
And I consider her to be like a God.
Because Mommy tells me, "I just gave birth to you,
but Pushpa Mamu is giving you your fate and destiny."
"The mother who raises children and gives them their
destiny is greater than a biological mother."
That's why I think of Mamu as Mommy.
Giving birth is not a big thing.
But giving them a practical life
And leading them a life into reality.
That's a more important thing.
And I feel very proud.
I know that I am not their biological mother.
But at least they treat me as mother.
That's more reality. And that's more appreciated.
That's my responsibility.
Being a mother, that's my responsibility.
To fulfill their dreams. To fulfill their everything.
That's my responsibility.
Today, I am changing somebody's life.
And tomorrow, they are changing somebody else's life.
Today, we don't give it to them.
Tomorrow, they will not give it to others.
It's like passing the thanks.