Whilst most of his fellow citizens do not have access to medical help,
the Nepalese prime minister, SUSSIL KOI-RALA, regularly commutes between
Kathmandu and New York where he has radiation therapy against lung cancer.
A long time ago used radiation equipment was donated to Nepal from rich
foreign countries. For middle class Nepalese! this has to suffice, even
when most of them have to part from their possessions in order to be
able to pay the high costs of the treatment. The poor who have cancer
are not even given this possibility. We feel miserable because we cannot
help the women from the slums with this treatment. That is why we have
now decided to organize an explanation programme in the hope of keeping
the evil within some limit. "Our" RITA from the former Children's
World is now a nurse and with MUNA and SUSHMA she teaches the women
to undertake an early detection examination on themselves each month.
They could see on other women with cancer how an untreated breast cancer
in the end stage turns into an almost unbearable nightmare and they
are particularly eager to learn. In the meantime we ask ourselves questions
about the sense of this explanation programme since several women ought
to go desperately to a mammography, which costs as much as a month's
wages of a school teacher. In the end our efforts are as such: The women
who have symptoms do not go to the urgent examinations because they,
as they say time and again, do not have any money for them.
At present, Muna is trying to motivate them to take over responsibility
for themselves and at the same time is negotiating discounts at a hospital.
The women think that WE have to pay because Kinderhilfe Nepal - as they
believe - is endlessly wealthy and should not only support children.
There is a lack of medical support not only in the slums but in the
whole of Nepal. A Nepalese woman gives birth to on average between 6
- 11 children alone at home without having ever been examined. Even
in Kathmandu there are problems: the doctors of the largest state hospital
went on strike recently because they could not carry out their occupation
due to a lack of medical equipment. And since the government does nothing
to fight the environmental pollution, cancer is a flourishing illness
in the Himalayan state. The air and water are polluted with heavy metals
and chemicals. Even in the vegetables which are sold daily on the market
45% pesticides were traced in August and for a few days it was forbidden
to sell them. On the following day however the polluted products were
found again in the south of the country where they were sold for half
the price to the population. Not less than 1,331 firms which offer Indian
pesticides in Nepal have successfully set up business in Kathmandu and
they are determined to continue to make good business.
In the slums of Banshigat and Thapatali our nutrition and education
programme continues and we regularly deliver drinking water to the two
settlements. In the tent camp of the Maute nomads the people are not
permanently resident and our commitment is mainly of a medical manner.
Also with these peole one has to learn how to handle them. The Maute
are already married as babies even when the actual marriage takes place
when they have reached the age of fifteen. For centuries they marry
amongst themselves and time and again these otherwise very attractive
people give birth to many children with a cleft lip or palate or other
inborn disfigurations. We had to get used to the fact that the parents
consider such children as a good source of income when begging on the
street and they avoid every operation which, by the way, could be carried
out for free in Kathmandu. They do not decline directly but for example
say that they will let the operation be carried out in the winter, knowing
well that they will then no longer be in Kathmandu.
We have invested too much time and energy in such cases, have organized
and prepared a lot so that everything goes well for the child. When
we arrived on the day as arranged in order to collect the mother and
child for the operation they were already long gone.
More and more men from the slums work in Malaysia or the Emirates, but
the families hope often in vain for the money which they earn there
as slaves. Many of them apply for jobs at bad job agencies which spring
up everywhere and promise work against a down-payment of money and then
disappear again overnight with enormous sums of money. Qatar, due to
the Football World Cup in 2022, has become a particular destination
for the poor. For Nepal a change of location for these games would be
a real economical catastrophe. The men who stand in long queues at Kathmandu
airport waiting for their flight with Qatar Airways or Air Arabia know
in the meantime what sort of life awaits them. And nevertheless they
want to leave because at home there is only hardship and without work
they are no longer respected.
At least their wives then no longer have to worry any more about getting
pregnant again. When we spoke to them about family planning and suggested
various methods it came out that the men strictly refuse to use condoms
and are not even interested in better hygiene. Medication against infections
was distributed and the idea evolved to start up a Women's Club in which
women should commit themselves to refuse to sleep with their unclean
men. In the meantime we smile skeptically about such decisions. We continue
our work unperturbed and at least the hundreds of children who we look
after profit from it.
Many thanks to all of you for your loyal support. Until next December
with new (and old) from Kathmandu!