When the Maoists were still in power they managed to look intocorrupt politicians from the other parties carefully and many of them were sent to prison because of fraud. However, the last elections were won by the conservative Congress Party and its officials are of course now particularly looking forward to closely looking into the assets of the Maoists! The new rulers are finishing the building work, which was started by their predecessors in the capital: Katmandu's streets are on the one hand being drastically widened, however wider streets in this case only means more cars, more air pollution and hours of waiting in traffic jams which makes daily life more difficult.
Over one million Nepalese work under unworthy conditions in the Emirates or in Malaysia and send the money they have saved home. This is how a sort of middle class is developing which is slowly beginning to be able to afford some things whilst the poor are even poorer than ever before. The prices have risen so much, that our project needs even more money in order to take care of the needy. 30% of the children already suffer from birth of underweight and whilst most Nepalese spend 80% of their income on food, one third of them lack the necessary daily calories. The main meal of these people consists of rice with a watery lentil soup in the morning and evening. Although the UN-Nutrition Program imports tons of rice in Nepal it thereby demoralizes the development of the local farming.
About 38,600 NGOs work in the small Himalayan country and bring millions of dollars into the country the press in Katmandu reports. If one takes into account that Nepal has a population of 26,5 million, then it means the journalists reckon that there is one NGO for 530 Nepalese! Where is all that money?! "Kinderhilfe Nepal", however small our association may be, looks after 300 children and their families and all the money donated is used for the help in the slums. This work is slowly making steady progress. The Maute nomads have gone to India for three months and are expected back in Katmandu before the monsoon period in May. In the slums in which we are working, the children remain healthy due to our nutrient-rich milk pudding.
Muna still takes care of medical help and tries to educate adults and children about better hygiene. The shortage of water is alarming during this season and women often have to stand in a queue for hours in order to get a canister full of water. Mostly there is only electricity during the night when nobody needs it. Large firms do have generators but the many small craftsmen are hindered at working and their income isn't enough in order to feed the family properly. We regularly deliver drinking water via lorries to both slum areas and pay for the medical treatment of the children.
Due to the drastic increase in costs for health we can no longer cover the costs of the operations for mothers and have to set the priority of our work on the children. It is difficult and very depressing to have to abandon people to their hopeless fate. In Katmandu an immense number of small dirty clinics are thriving which show no sympathy with the poorest and for unbelievable sums of money and much unkindness offer treatment and surgical operations. In the rest of the country, in particularly in the Himalayan mountains, there is no medical care whatsoever. Many people die because doctors and nurses refuse to work in remote villages. Often the sick people have to be carried for days until their relatives find a road on which they can reach the capital city by bus. Often they arrive too late. Such families, who have sold their huts and fields in the village, in the hope of their loved ones recovering, end up in the slums of Katmandu.
In the slum of Banshigat the success of our work can be seen the best. Sushma alphabetizes the nomad children, whose parents have decided to settle down so that their children can visit our school. Only after that they have the ability to go to the state school. Sushma organizes regular parents meetings in order to ask the parents for their cooperation and to convince them how important it is for their children to be educated. "Kinderhilfe Nepal" pays at present the school fees for 90 children from the slums. Some parents manage to raise the money for the education, others don't because they only live from recycling the waste products of the capital city. By doing that they are achieving a very valuable job for the society, however they are only despised because of it and they earn almost nothing.
With every visit in Katmandu we improve our project work as well as we can. Also our "girls" Muna, Sushma and Sija, who take care of the children from the slums all year round, have to be motivated every time and are only then in a position to carry out their work with great enthusiasm until our next visit. Last March we were pleased to welcome a group of donators and we hope to be able to greet even more of you all soon in Katmandu.
All the best until our next letter in August-September.
With very kind wishes