September 2022
Ghypanphedi, Nepal


Case study

Ghypanphedi, a small village in Nepal, has faced issues with child trafficking for centuries. 

For the past 6 years, Katie Hilborn, a social activist and humanitarian, has been on a mission to stop child trafficking at the source. Her non-profit, Global Orphan Prevention, works to prevent child trafficking through economic development, empowerment, and education. 

Katie knew how important powerful storytelling is, so she turned to Eric to help her organization effectively communicate their mission to potential donors while telling the difficult story of child sex trafficking in Nepal. 

Katie had taken photographers and filmmakers to these remote regions in the past, but all previous attempts had failed as the one’s wielding the cameras quickly became discouraged and unwilling to continue due to the heavy subject matter and the harsh living conditions of the Himalayas. Not to mention the mounting concern for personal safety and harm from angry traffickers who did not want the organization to operate in their territory. Eric knew the risks and faced the challenges head-on.

Even before the cameras started rolling, Eric and Katie faced adversity. The two traveled to Nepal twice in 2021 and 2022, and it wasn’t easy. Nepal was one of the strictest countries in regard to covid travel restrictions. Upon entering the country, they were subject to a mandatory 10 day quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. After waiting for their quarantine to be done in a small hotel in Kathmandu, the two traveled by an off-road vehicle for 6 hours to the Nuwakot district, finally arriving at the small village of Ghypanphedi. 

During an interview with a fellow anti-trafficking colleague, they referred to Ghypanphedi as “the belly of the beast” due to the sheer number of girls who go missing from the village. In her 6 years of working in Ghypanphedi, Katie has been subject to extreme harassment and threats to her life. The traffickers would often slander her name across national news outlets, falsely proclaiming she was working to convert locals to Christianity (a common tactic used against unwelcome activists). Nevertheless, Katie and Eric pushed forward.

The resulting film premiered at the Global Orphan Prevention ‘Northstar 2 Freedom’ gala in 2022 and went on to raise over $300,000 in donations! The film also won multiple awards and recognition from humanitarian film festivals, Best Social Impact Video: Telly Awards and Best Awareness Campaign: Anthem Awards.

Directed and Edited by Eric Heiland

Produced by Katie Hilborn