Raise My Voice

I’ve always been the timid one. The girl at the back of the class.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I’ve known. My palms would get sweaty as I’d avoid making eye contact with the person I was talking to, hoping and praying to get out of there.

My social anxiety led to social awkwardness. I didn’t know how to act in front of people. I was the quiet, shy one. I never spoke much to anyone, and as a result, didn’t have many friends. I was fine with this for some time, because I was carrying my best friend along with me all the time. Books.

I loved reading as a child, and I still do. My love for reading compelled me to write stories of my own. My parents realized how much I loved writing, and they suggested I write a book. A published book.

Initially, I said no. Writing was something I did for myself, and I wasn’t sure if I was willing to share it with the world.
But there was something exciting about the thought of other people reading my thoughts, and after some time, I agreed. I was nine years old.

I wrote my stories down on a piece of paper, and I remember my mom typing them into her laptop. However, a few things happened in between—and it took two years for the book to finally get published. I was 11 years old when I got to hold my first book in my hands. Words couldn’t explain how excited I was.

It was around this time I heard about sex trafficking and how girls were sold to brothels by their own parents. These girls were as young as 4 years old, and the average age of being trafficked was 12. It was then that I realized how lucky I was to have a family who didn’t think any less of me for being a girl. I felt like I had to do something to help these girls, and my dad came up with an idea. He said that if this was something I was so passionate about, I could send the proceeds I got from selling my book to a charity organization in Nepal that rescued girls from brothels and sent them to school. So that’s what we did.

I attended seminars that were held by my dad and talked about my book. People started buying my book, words of encouragement started flowing, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I was also interviewed on newspapers, television, and radio stations. We sold around 200 copies of my book, and sometime after that, my dad stopped holding seminars.

I didn’t get a chance to sell my book, and we couldn’t sell them at bookstores either, because they were asking for too much of the proceeds, meaning we would barely have anything left to send to charity. After that, school work and pressure started piling up, and I slowly started forgetting about my books, leaving them piled up in boxes.

Recently (four years later), I stumbled upon a lot of articles on the Internet about child trafficking. I read a few articles and stories, and something clicked in me. Again, there was that undeniable urge to contribute to the victims of sex slavery. There was something in me that broke at the thought of these girls having everything taken from them. Their family, dignity, innocence, hopes, dreams, and their voices. I knew I had to do something.

So after four years, I have reopened the project that has been shut. I am selling my books again, and I am sending all the proceeds to Asha Nepal. This time, I am more passionate than ever about making a difference. I want to raise more than money—I want to raise awareness about this heinous crime that takes place every day.

Child trafficking is the second most committed crime against children. Yet, very few people are aware about what takes place within the walls of brothels. I have created a blog and made a video to raise awareness about this issue. I sell my book on my blog and write about issues women and girls around the world face.

I may have been the softest girl, the girl at the back of the class. But now, the time has come for me to use my voice and lend it to my sisters who do not have one.

Natassha Selveraj

About the Author | Natassha Selveraj

Natassha Selvaraj is a 15-year-old girl who loves reading. Her love for books compelled her to start writing. She is a published author who started writing her first book at the age of nine. Natassha feels very strongly about issues like child trafficking, and she works to spread awareness and raise funds for victims of trafficking.

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2 comments to "Raise My Voice"

  • Shakina Obanda (15)

    I love what you’re doing to combat sexual abuse against children! If they are organizations you have mind for people like me to check out, I would be immensely interested.

    • Natassha

      Hey, thank you for your support! The organization I fundraise for is called Asha Nepal, you can check them out if you want. You can also check out this organization called Maiti Nepal. It was started by an incredible woman named Anuradha Koirala. You can watch her Ted Talk too, if you have the time. It is very informative and inspiring.