This March the sun rarely found its way through the dense fog of dust and emissions that have been hovering over the valley of Kathmandu. Dry thunderstorms, tornadoes of grit and the shortage of gas, electricity and clean water impeded the lives of the main townsfolk. Children and old people suffering from chronic respiration troubles increased the revenue of hospitals, whose doctors and managers need not ever worry about their incomes. As the air cleans up by the time the monsoon arrives in June, this brings dirty water instead, increasing the number of those sick with gastrointestinal infections further increasing the profits made by the countless private institutions. The siege of Nepal by the Madhesis, who blocked the main trade routes to India in the south of the nation and were even supported by the Indians, lasted nearly five months.
During this time, the Nepalese communist Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli did not remain passive and prepared a large scale meeting with the Chinese premier Li Kegiang. Some, but not all aspects of the new Nepalese Constitution were adjusted in favour of the Madhesis on strike, who want to continue to fight for their interests, even though India urged them to give up their strike. The large state visit by K.P. Sharma Oil in Beijing happened in the beginning of March and India was less than impressed: several contracts were signed, that e.g. allowed Nepal access to all Chinese harbours. China committed to build streets and a railway line between the two countries and through the Himalaya. Even a second international airport is to be constructed in the Nepalese tourist city Pokhara. Apart from that China will invest in Nepal and is obligated to supply the small Himalaya state with petrol. All of these contracts have put an end to the Indian rule over Nepal and have at least forced India to become more careful in that it is no longer supporting the revolts of the Nepalese Madhesis in the South of the country. Due to its geographic location, Nepal is condemned to be dependent on both giants. It is obviously not in vain that India has promised the small state so much: in return the Chinese have received the permission to extract the valuable, subterranean treasures of the Himalaya for themselves and it naturally provides them with the opportunity to control the state.
In the meantime, the 500,000 Nepalese families who survived the Earthquake were struggling to survive their first harsh winter underneath plastic covers. One year after the large quake the rebuild of the country has not even commenced. The responsible government agencies are hindering the work of the relief agencies, by requesting plenty of permits so that foreign aid workers are beginning to get increasingly furious as they cannot complete their work. The countries that have committed to allocate 4.4 Billion USD to the reconstruction of Nepal are only willing to do so for legitimate, well-planned projects. Thus, nothing is happening. The victims of the earthquake have lost their hope and are building cheap, unsafe shelters from plastic, corrugated metal and loam.
We escaped these difficulties, because we fought for these permits early on last September. At this time, none of the responsible government agencies knew how to deal with the problem; and exactly that was the time that we used, because those who resisted the passivity of the Nepalese officials with faux, naïve and emotional tenacity could only win. In the end we threatened to return the entire sum of the Mudhku project back to the German donors, because the Nepalese were incapable to provide us with the necessary permissions to build the 20 houses. Those responsible, who naturally expected a respectable baksheesh for the go-ahead, gave up in the end and gave us the longed for document, simply to get rid of us! In early January our three civil engineers began the construction work in Mudhku. The workers eat and sleep in one of our plastic tents in Mudhku itself, and in March it was a great surprise when we determined that the shell of the 20 houses were ready in correspondence with the relevant earthquake safe criteria.
Until June, before the monsoon arrives, the houses are supposed to be ready for occupancy in order to protect the 20 families from the heavy rains. The 50 families that still live under the plastic shelters that we constructed, are not complaining. Nepalese people accept everything they can, whether it comes or it doesn't. It is certainly very sad to not be able to help more, but the daily routine continues as the media defines it, and the earthquake victims in Nepal are long forgotten.
Nevertheless, the activities of the projects continue proficiently: both of the health inspection centres, the kindergarten and the literacy school for the Maute children, whose parents want to get settled, are regularly visited. We take care of 300 children with our vitamin- and mineral rich milk pudding and deliver drinking water in both of the slums three times a week. Of late, we also pay the tuition fees and uniforms for 100 children.
The Maute nomads have returned to their former camping spot near the airport and we mainly attend to them medically. They are not open to changes in their hygienic routine, but their worry for their children has had them accept our medical support. Sushma and Muna are looking after the project with much care. In the beginning of March Muna was very excited about the visit of the gynaecologist Dr. Anke Gaußmann from the St. Vinzenz Hospital in Hanau. She examined the women from the slums of Banshigat and Thapathali as well as the women from the village of Mudhku. She showed Muna how to conduct gynaecological examinations, which strengthened her confidence.
We are looking forward to present you with the 20 finished earthquake resistant houses of Mudhku in our next newsletter at the end of August, which we were able to build because of your generosity. Thank you all for your support!