Whoever arrives today for the first time in Nepal can hardly believe that the Himalaya country still belongs to the 16 poorest countries in the world: at this time of the year Katmandu looks like every Indian city: dust and exhaust fumes cause most people to be poisened in unbearable, endless traffic jams whilst an ever growing upper and middle class population are protected in expensive, climatized cars.
On the occasion of the last elections, a European Commission made up of 28 countries was invited by the Nepalese government to observe. This made, on the whole, a positive report, but made some recommendations, which if they were followed, they would help Nepal to a stronger democracy. Most political parties reacted heavily and the outraged communist Prime Minister OLI requested the EU-Commission to correct their report immediately, for their comments were an interference in the internal affairs of his country ……
Nepal would now like to be recognized internationally as a modern country. That is why a woman was elected as representative President of the country, a gesture, which cannot hide the fact that most politicians of all parties are still men who have always belonged to the dominant casts and ethnic groups in the country. One must however recognize, that Prime Minister OH works more effectively than his predecessor, whereby he makes decisions which will definitely help Nepal out of its lethargy: Up until today there were 64 official holidays in Nepal per year, which together with the many strike and demonstration days may have made many Nepalese happy, however they lame the country for almost 6 months. Now they will all have to be satisfied with only 22 public holidays…..
Our work for children in need continues in the slums of Kathmandu. However, lately it is being hindered more by the interference of the government: through new laws the Ministry for Social Questions now wants to control how, where, when and why money from international organisations is spent, and does everything to make the work of these large or small associations more difficult. Kinderhilfe Nepal is not directly reviewed by the Nepalese government, but her sister organisation "Nepal Association for Children's Care and Education" , without whose existence our work in Nepal would not be legal, is reviewed.
Our staff, Muna and Sushma, represent the Nepalese organisation and have to spend even more time with paperwork and standing in queues at the government authorities. Every new commitment as from now has to be reported to the Ministry, whose staff let them wait weeks and sometimes months for an approval. If the Kinderhilfe Nepal would literally follow these new rules, they would have to interrupt their work for a longer period of time until the agreement which they hope for from the Government has arrived and there is no way that we do that. In the last 30 years we have always found the right way to support the Nepalese children efficiently during all the different political events in the country, and we will continue to do that.
We are particularly satisfied with the success of our commitment in the slum of BANSHIGAT. The kindergarten and health center are the heart of the settlement and our staff who work there are experienced and reliable. The inhabitants of theses slums also grow, and over the last 10 years their quality of life and dignity have increased through our influence. Through our crèche mothers can now go to work and help to feed the family. However, they still have money problems: We were astonished when the staff of the Kindergarten asked us for help to buy underwear for the little ones. Some still wet their pants they said …… In the end we learned that most of the children, the big ones as well, owned no pants. The slum of THAPATHALI also causes us some difficulties because the gangs, which are supported by the different political parties, cause a hostile atmosphere and hinder a feeling of solidarity amongst the inhabitants. As in other slum-communities, here we also distribute our nutritious milk pudding to the children and regulary deliver drinking water for the whole settlement. In our last letter we spoke about our wish to differentiate between the needy in this slum from the "better off". It is namely informative to have a look inside the plastic huts: some hide expensive, pretentious furniture, whilst in the huts of the poorest there is not even a bed. It is these slightly more well-off people, whose fashionable clothes particularly stand out, who cause tension. They do everything to hide their "better" situation from us and demand from us the same treatment as those who really need it. We often wonder whether we should end our commitment in this slum totally, but we hesitate again and again because we know how hard this decision would affect the poor families from Thapathali.
As for our MAUTE nomads who have put down roots, hardly any development can be noticed. They are always happy for our support but they are just as friendly if our staff just call by. The mothers are fed up with having so many children, but serious family planning is not possible for them because they forget to take the pill or they simply miss the appointment for the three-monthly injection. One of them, who already has three children at the age of 19, would be prepared to have a tubal ligation, but the doctors refuse to carry out this operation because she is too young
The men very often declare that contraception is solely the problem of the women. For fathers of 5 or 6 children a vasectomy also doesn't come into question at all because this would destroy their masculinity, they say …… Nevertheless, Muna discusses this subject with the women again and again and gives them advice on better hygene. Most women of this ethnic group are very slim and do not have enough milk in order to adequately breastfeed their newborn babies. That is why we provide for them now! Babies, up until they are 6 months old, receive a special milk powder, which is very expensive in Nepal, which they otherwise could not afford. When the little ones are 7 or 8 months old they can consume our milk pudding which is supplemented with vitamins and minerals.
Unlike the Maute, the people of MUDHKU, for whom we constructed 20 earthquake-proof houses after the catastrophy in 2015, make continuous progress. However, they also have financial problems and could never cover the dental costs for their children. In such cases we always help them.
We thank you for your loyal support for our commitment in Katmandu and will report back again at the beginning of September.
Very kind wishes