Between 2008 and 2015 the annual number of Nepalis migrating away from home has more than doubled from 220,000 to 500,000. A large reason for this increase is demand from the Gulf states where Nepali migrant workers are known to be hardworking and most importantly- cheap. In the wake of this demand manpower agencies in Nepal are flourishing- connecting labourers with unskilled, low paid jobs and the ‘opportunity’ to explore a new country.
The agency arranges 1-2 days of interviews where approximately 300 Nepali men will attend, some traveling up to 20 hours from remote villages in the far west of Nepal to Kathmandu just for the interview. These men are ‘The Candidates’.
They will join the ranks of 2.8 million Nepalis working abroad who send home in earnings a total of 6 billion USD per year- or 30% of Nepal’s GDP. Unfortunately for some of these migrant workers the picture painted of higher salaries, experience in a new culture and good work conditions does not materialize. Many are paid less than what they are promised. There have been reports of workers having their passports confiscated. If they break their contracts (which are often 2-3 years long) they have to pay their employer up to 200,000 nepali rupees, an astronomical sum for a Nepali migrant worker.
‘Lucky Overseas’ an agency based in one of Kathmandu’s more affluent neighbourhoods held interviews with almost 300 candidates over the weekend of the 19th November 2016. The interviews are nerve-wracking. On the line for these men is not only a job opportunity but the chance to create a better life for their family- and themselves.