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Rising above the station imposed on him by the caste system was not easy. Smile is a Dalit and the son of a former Kamaiya, but his wife is from the Chhetri, or warrior caste. Their marriage caused considerable resentment among higher-caste people living nearby. "Sometimes it is difficult to stay in this village," says Smile. "Most of the people around here are from a higher caste and they look down on us."<br />
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"Not all of them," counters his wife. But even she admits that their children are scorned and insulted because their father is a Dalit. <br />
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"When they do something good at school or in the village, the people say, "Amazing! A Dalit child can actually do something properly," she says.<br />
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Among Nepal's untouchable class are the Kamaiya - a social group who have traditionally sold themselves and their children into bonded labour, for as little as US$50 a year. Even though the Kamaiya system has been legally abolished, the practice of bonded child labour, or kamalari, is still prevalent. The children perform menial labour, mostly as domestic servants, or in small businesses and on farms. They work all day, every day. They have no childhoods. They don't go to school. There is nowhere to turn if they are abused. They have almost no chance of breaking out of this poisonous system to make a better life for themselves or their own children in the future.<br />
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This has been going on for 2,000 years.

Rising above the station imposed on him by the caste system was not easy. Smile is a Dalit and the son of a former Kamaiya, but his wife is from the Chhetri, or warrior caste. Their marriage caused considerable resentment among higher-caste people living nearby. "Sometimes it is difficult to stay in this village," says Smile. "Most of the people around here are from a higher caste and they look down on us."

"Not all of them," counters his wife. But...
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Copyright Rob Few