Since His Majesty King
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev seized power on 1 February 2005 and declared
himself absolute monarch, the political situation in Nepal is desperate.
During his birthday his portrait was displayed in shop windows in the
whole country. The media acclaim the monarch day by day, while many
journalists are in prison or simply disappeared. Various political groups
formed a single political party, which demands negotiations with the
Maoist rebels and a return to democracy. Due to the presence of army
and police in the Kathmandu valley it is yet in the firm grip of the
Whenever His Majesty
returns after a journey from the airport police units chase and beat
for whole 10 minutes everybody and anything moving in his way. Women,
children, nobody is spared: the roads have to be empty. Dilip, our bookkeeper
was just on his way home, when several policemen so crudely lashed out
at him that he got a deep injury at his hip. As much as one would like
to take action against such behaviour, one has to keep silent. To file
a suit would mean, in our instance for example, the end of our project.
The Maoist rebels want the UN to mediate for negotiations with the now
single political party. But since this party declines the offer, the
situation is blocked. Highways to India and China are safeguarded by
army, otherwise the rebels wield power in most parts of the country,
and although they do not have too many weapons at their disposal they
are a real challenge and danger for the King's army. There are killings
and torturing at both sides, which are denounced by toothless human
rights organisations, but Nepal falls more and more into the oblivion
of the world.
Whereas the despot increased in the new annual budget his living cost
by 36%, the country gets poorer and poorer. Tourists being warned at
home stay away from Nepal. Hotels and restaurants are empty, unemployment
increases dramatically. If anybody is lucky enough to be able to found
a company, he only employs his relatives and people from his own caste,
even if they are not qualified for the job. Even banks and big companies
work along these lines.
Our older children find this kind of acting outrageous, for all of them
hail from a social environment of utter poverty and do not have any
connections with big shots. Three of them, Hareram, Santsoh and Saroj
are striving, as most Nepalese do, to find work as electricians or mechanics
in the gulf countries. There they will earn hardly anything by normal
standards, but still it will be 10 times more than in Nepal, provided
that they would find work here at all. All would be too glad to live
in our beautiful home, but no drop of water comes from the water taps.
The government provides water only for two hours a day, which we collect
in a tank, but it is not enough for 60 people and this means we have
to part from this site: We have to move again. A very irksome thought,
for shortage of water is a feature in most parts of the city and we
have to find quarters, which will be able to withstand the major earthquake
foretold by scientists. The older girls and boys will live in two apartments,
whereas we shall reduce the inmates of Children's World to 25 younger
children and 5 faithful staff members. We shall provide the older ones
with money for house rent, university fees and dry food (lentils, rice,
soybeans, etc), we shall also cater for their medical needs. They will
have to cook their own food and learn how to manage their affairs themselves.
Every Saturday they will have to gather at the main building and attend
an obligatory meeting, in order to exchange news and solve problems
that might have turned up.
In a small shop of Kathmandu we came across Sunita. She is 17 years
old, hails from a very poor background and she had two large tumours
on her neck. Since her parents had no money for a doctor, we bore the
costs for the treatment. She was operated upon and was lucky: It was
not cancer, but "only" glandular tuberculosis. The tumours
were removed, for a few months she gets the expensive medicine from
us, which are supposed to cure her, and we pay her for a tailoring and
seamstress training, so that she can make her own living.
Our girls with much admirable enthusiasm work in the slums as before.
In front of the school we installed a water tap and a toilet. We also
covered the sewage pipes which we laid with earth and sand, in order
to convert the area into a playground. The children thrive well on the
good food, rich in vitamins and minerals, which they daily get. Sija,
who is managing this project, never closes the school, for she is reluctant
to put at risk the achievements she has made so far. She keeps close
contact to the mothers of the children, who have formed a task force
by themselves: Armed with sticks 60 women patrol in small groups from
7 p.m. to 1 a.m. the narrow lanes of the slums, and intervene at once,
when a woman is being beaten by a drunken husband. They also confiscate
playing cards, because men in the slums gamble away at night the little
money which they earn during the day. This task force is respected by
now and we bought them torch lights, in order to facilitate their work.
Women solidarity in the slum - this is very nice to see, for Nepalese
people are by nature rather tradition-minded.
In one of the class rooms there is a real small pharmacy, and Sija can
fall back on her crash course as a nurse almost daily and dress wounds.
The school is overcrowded, and we have to build urgently two new classrooms,
but the slum people occupy land, which belongs to the government. We
daily see that around the miserable colony new expensive houses are
being built, and it is just a question of time, that like in other poor
countries, one fine day, bulldozers from the government will arrive
and level the slums. The slum people think they are able to resist -
at least they tell it now. In fact however, got the moment, thanks to
our girls we are working very well with the 120 children of this community
and we have achieved a lot. This success we also owe to all of you,
and although our situation in Nepal at times looks quite hopeless, we
take new courage and we will not give up!
We wish you all the best till the next newsletter in December, which
will be accompanied by the donation receipts for 2005.
Many loving greetings and regards!