It took the 8 parties of Nepal a whole year to negotiate and form an interim government after the April 2006 revolution to organize national elections next June. While Maoist leaders Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, recently finally succeeded in getting 5 ministerial posts, although they are still labeled as terrorists by the Americans, ethnic armed groups have started to demand their autonomy. These new rebels in the south of the country are suspected of being supported by King Gyanendra and foreign countries so that Nepal cannot rest and the Maoists can be defamed as responsible for massacres and murders. In recent months, the lives of Nepalese have drastically worsened, with tens of thousands of now "unemployed" Maoist fighters arriving in Kathmandu from the jungles and struggling to survive by asking for monetary donations.
Also at Children's World, three female soldiers appeared and wanted to place their children with us. The crime rate has risen very high. Former soldiers of the Nepalese army as well as former Maoist rebels are in possession of weapons, which they sell to criminal gangs. Corruption is flourishing more than ever. Meanwhile, fear is growing among the people. Ethnic unrest is paralyzing the south of the country, and the new rebels keep blocking the main access road to Kathmandu, which is otherwise supplied with all essential goods from India: there is always no gasoline, no diesel and no gas. Electricity is cut off six hours a day, and because of water shortages, we in Children's World also have to buy water for 150 euros a month, a huge sum for the Nepalese standard of living, which hardly anyone can afford; for example, the average monthly salary of a teacher is only 50 euros.
The country has been ungoverned, so to speak, for a year. The 85-year-old ailing Prime Minister Girisad Prasad Koirala is under pressure from India and the U.S., which dislike the former Maoist rebels, and the new ministers from the 8 different parties are incompetent and unable to do their jobs properly. If things continue in this unserious manner, corruption is not stopped and the conspiracies of the king and foreign countries are not prevented and condemned, the interests of the Nepali people will continue to come last and the country is in danger of soon sinking into total anarchy.
Our project continues, relatively undisturbed by the miserable political situation. The money you donate alleviates the plight of the children and the people in the slum. The food we have been giving the children daily for a long time makes them healthy and strong. Sija is really "obsessed" with her work in this community. She and her team even work there during the official school vacations. They are supported by our Children's World children during this time by organizing special activities like dancing, singing, painting and sports for the slum children.
We had all the children vaccinated against hepatitis B and invited their parents to participate in the vaccination campaign for 2 euros. Only seven people accepted the offer. All the others said they had no money. Sija, who now knows every hut and all family circumstances, then secretly vaccinated women and old people free of charge after consultation with us, who really could not afford this vaccination. Sija, who was actually the head of the school, now works more as a social worker. All the women come to her with their problems and ask her for advice. When they feel sick, it is often the case that they feel much better after talking to Sija! After we had laid sewage pipes and drilled three wells where people can wash their clothes, we are now in the process of installing pipes to supply the whole slum with drinking water. This water is chemically treated by the government and is therefore cleaner than water from other sources.
Europeans can hardly drink it without getting sick, but for the immune system of the Nepalese it is "pure" water. The mothers have long learned from us how to make water germ-free, but learning and doing are often two different things in the slum.
Sija has to deal with cases that are very difficult: Four-month-old baby Nur has had a single kidney since birth, and it's not functioning properly at that. It now has a sore hole in the middle of its abdomen through which urine drains with great pain. Doctors are trying to save the diseased kidney and hope for a transplant.
A very difficult case, because baby kidneys are not easy to find and there is no database for transplants in Nepal like we have in Amsterdam. We bear the medical costs for the sick baby. Mahima, mother of 4 children had to have her uterus removed urgently. Bimala Tamang (three children) had to have huge kidney stones operated out. These two women as well as the baby would have died without your support, because whoever gets seriously ill in Nepal has to die. Of course, we are purely a children's charity, but should slum children become orphans just because their mothers were terminally ill and destitute?
We also decided to alphabetize the women from the slum and teach them arithmetic so that they can better follow the development of their children and become more independent. Sija refused to hire an additional worker for this because she thinks that any teacher who would come "from outside" would look at the women from "above" and therefore would discourage them immediately. So now she teaches the slum women daily from 4 to 5 p.m. while Samjhana, who is also from Children's World, watches their children. The women are very proud to learn and show great zeal in doing so.
At Children's World, everyone is trying to cope with the death of our 16-year-old Pramod and our dog Lisbeth, and we hope that 2007 will bring more happiness to the house. Deepak is working very seriously on his psychology studies in the American University of Thailand. Santosh, Shree Krishna and Giri, are heard from more often by e-mail from the Flight Academy of Calcutta. They are undergoing very tough personality training, and it seems they are getting such good grades that they will be automatically hired by an airline in a few months after they finish their studies.
And there's Nelson, reminding us how fast time flies; he turned 3 on March 19 and all his "surrogate parents"(our big kids) came to celebrate and shower him with gifts. Nelson is all of our babies and is spoiled as much as any child in the project has ever been. He still does not have an official identity, however, as he was abandoned by his parents, a problem that still needs to be sorted out.
Hopefully these information letters convey to you what your support means to so many children and people. Without you, more than 200 children and their mothers would be living in utter misery, and many of them would surely not be alive.
Thank you on their behalf, thank you on behalf of our employees and also our adult children, who are now truly aware of what a happy coincidence it was that they found their way to our aid project 18 years ago. We will be in touch again in August/September.
Whole hearted greetings and best wishes!