In recent months, the social and political situation in the Kathmandu valley has changed so drastically that the security of its inhabitants is becoming increasingly difficult to guarantee. In addition to the growing general crime, the Maoists have attacked. Until recently, their terrorist attacks took place only in the province. Every day, the newspapers now report numerous deaths. On the walls of Kathmandu there are slogans like: "Foreigners out, we don't need your help!". The press also reads that the American Embassy has advised its compatriots not to travel the country any more and to avoid all accumulations in the city.
Bikram, one of our oldest children, returned from South India last week, where he spent two years in college. On the border with Nepal he was threatened three times by armed groups with the machine gun. The men wanted money, otherwise they said they wouldn't let him in. Since he only had empty pockets, they let him pass in the end.
The children's home has not been spared from these effects of crime. Once, thieves sneaked into the house at night and stole Khim's wages and papers from his pocket. Three times within two months the house was attacked by masked men with stones. Khim's motorcycle was damaged and ten days ago he was hit by a car and was injured on his leg and hand. The police, who were notified every time, were always late, so that the perpetrators remain unknown.
One thing is certain: the presence of aid organisations in Nepal is undesirable for more and more people. And not just Maoists. Even the Nepalese government seems to want to make our work in the country more difficult and has begun to exercise control over aid organisations. All such foreign organizations must work through a Nepalese sister organization established for this purpose. A new law requires that government officials sit in this Nepalese organisation and have a say.
But the Nepalese officials did not think of that: the money needed to make the project work is going to flow once a month from Nepal's children's relief account to the Nepalese sister organisation, whose president is Khim, and a fax from us would be enough to turn off the tap. Eleven years ago we worked in the country unofficially because of the political situation at that time, and we would certainly do so again if circumstances were to force us to do so at some point.
Much more unpleasant was the visit of two officials four weeks ago, who showed up in "Children's World" without announcing themselves, to inspect both houses closely and to ask children and staff for hours. Last year there have been cases of child abuse in Kathmandu and aid projects like ours are now suspected of being a cover-up for a worldwide organisation of child abuse. When our staff asserted that this was not the case, officials discovered photos of a Christmas celebration that the children wanted to celebrate with us two years ago in order to get an impression of it. A found food to accuse us of wanting to Christianize the children! The inhabitants of the children's house also disputed this. According to Khim's report, the adults who have been working with us for so many years were completely disturbed and could not understand this visit. This new situation makes us a bit more bitterness and the suspicion that we children could be abused is a real violation of our dignity.
After all. The life of "Children' sWorld" continues with the ups and downs that arise when children become young people: Krishna has had the habit of stealing for a long time and since it was impossible for all of us to stop him from doing so, he now works in the household of a family and goes on to school. Kusum, whose impertinence could not be tamed, also worked during the holidays as a "girl for everything" with Tibetans and has returned with repentance after getting an impression of the situation of most Nepalese children.
Santosh is our most difficult case. He doesn't want to go to school anymore, but wants to sleep in the children's house at night and "enjoy life" outside during the day! Khim couldn't cope with him. In Nepal you are 16 years of age. But Santosh is only 14 and still had to be put on the street by Khim. We promised him that if he comes to his senses and wants to go back to school, he can be taken back to the children's home in June for the next start of school. He called a friend last week to tell us he was dead! Of course, it quickly became clear that it was not true. He seems to get soft, and it's out there.When we found Santosh, he was only seven years old and has been working as a dishwasher in a dirty kitchen for two years.
Little children, little worries, big children, big worries. Otherwise, everything else runs its usual course. When they are on holiday, everyone helps in the kitchen and doing housework. The donor, who gave a computer to the children's house, helped to create a real library in "Children's World" this time.
Raj Kumar's task now is to guard the entrance to the property from his wheelchair. Since he spends most of his days outside in the sun, he was equipped with a pipe and he invented a whistle language to inform the whole house about the type of visitors!
Khim and Phurba complement each other well to run the house. They too are worried about the future, especially Khim, who feels threatened as the main person responsible for the project. We have sent him a defence spray and are considering whether we should bring an alarm system for the whole project to Nepal in June. When the attacks began, Khim wanted to fence the two houses with barbed wire! For us an impossible idea...
The current situation, however, could prove us wrong. For security reasons, we have already removed the sign "Children's World - Kinderhilfe Nepal - Germany", which hung on the house, in order to keep the foreign origin of the project as inconspicuous as possible. We fly to Kathmandu in June with mixed feelings. In December last year, there was already a latent aggressiveness in the air and we let ourselves go directly from the children's house to the hotel in the evening, without having to go for a stroll as before. We'll be surprised how things will turn out this time.
We would like to thank you for your faithful support and will contact you in August - September with the donation receipts and the latest news from Nepal.
Elisabeth Montet und Uwe Pohlig
Elisabeth Montet und Uwe Pohlig