The Beginning

Steve and Dawn Cottam have been travelling to Nepal for 20 years and have made many friends and contacts there. In 1997 Steve was staying with his friends, Shiva and Prerana, in their home in Kathmandu. During this time, Shiva and Prerana took a young girl called Sarimilla into their home. She was about 9 or 10 years old and had never been to school. Her father had left home to find work and never returned to his wife, Sarimilla and her 3 sisters. With no financial support, the family travelled to Kathmandu where her mother had some relatives.

Young girls from poor families are often hired out to work as domestic help in homes in Kathmandu. Sarimilla being only about 9 years old, was obviously well under the legal Nepalese working age of 14. Shiva and Prerana had become aware of Sarimilla’s predicament and wanted to try & help so they took her into their home and wanted to pay for her to go to school. In the month that she lived with Shiva & Preyna, things were going well & Sarimilla was very happy. She was treated like one of the family and was looking forward to starting school.

Sadly one evening her uncle came to Shiva demanding payment for her. Shiva refused saying Sarimilla had been taken in as an offer of help to her family & not as a domestic worker. Sarimilla wanted to stay with Shiva & his family but her uncle became angry, grabbed Sarimilla & strode off into the crowd. That was the last time that they ever heard or saw of Sarimilla. It is unknown what happened to her, but it is because of Sarimilla that Steve and Dawn have been working since to find some way to help change the situation for other children in similar predicaments. The Trust has been named after Sarimilla.