Kinderhilfe Nepal e.V.Charity Organization for Nepalese Slum Children

Newsletter May / June, 2024

Dear friends,

Last March, Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal cancelled the coalition with the conservative Indian-dependent Congress Party and formed a new government with the communists. Even though India has always exerted a great deal of influence on the small Himalayan state in the past, China's weight is now becoming increasingly important and it looks as if Nepal's rulers want to show their powerful neighbour once again that it does not necessarily belong to the capitalist part of the world.

The USA has long since secured a firm position of power in Nepal by providing strong financial support to the small country: Kathmandu airport is particularly important to them, and its use would be of enormous strategic importance in the event of a conflict with China. The Nepalese people are completely indifferent to who is in power anyway, because nothing significant ever changes when there is a change of government. The dissatisfaction of the people is expressed time and again, who often demonstrate on the streets for a fee to demand the return of the monarchy.

In our slum of Thapathali, our work continues with increasing difficulty, because prices in Nepal are constantly skyrocketing, which not only makes life more difficult for the poorest people, but also makes our association's work more and more difficult: we continue to supply the 1,500 people in the settlement with food.

In our slum of Thapathali, our work continues with increasing difficulty, as prices in Nepal are constantly skyrocketing, which is not only making life more difficult for the poorest, but also for our organisation: we continue to supply the 1500 people in the settlement with drinking water, which is becoming more and more expensive. Unfortunately, the nutritious porridge we give the children has also become unaffordable, and from now on we only provide it to children under the age of 10, knowing full well that this porridge is the most important thing we could do for the youngsters, as the food they get at home contains hardly any minerals and vitamins. Unemployment is high and it is becoming increasingly rare for women to find hard labour on construction sites.

When they are lucky, the men often take this hard-earned money away from them to, they say, double it playing cards so that the family can eat properly! This usually ends in debt and arguments, and the police are called. More than 20 men have left their families and the single women feel better without a husband, even if they find it difficult to feed their children on their own. We also cover the ever-increasing school costs of the children, who are desperate to leave Nepal when they finish school.

They still sometimes manage to hire themselves out for the most difficult jobs in the Emirates, but the new highly coveted wish is to be hired as a soldier in the Russian army for the fight in Ukraine. For months now, Russia has been offering Nepalese boys a monthly salary of 2,000 USD, and the contract promises that they will receive Russian nationality after six months of fighting. According to a report by CNN, there are now around 15,000 young men from Nepal who are currently deployed in the war. Nepalese come of age at the age of 16: Many teenagers were therefore able to sign the contract with the Russian army themselves without needing their parents' permission. As soon as they find themselves in combat, they call home and want to go back because they are not getting their wages and are afraid of dying. But they are bound by their contract and will be shot if they try to escape.

Many of them have died or simply ‘disappeared’. Over 300 families have filed a lawsuit against the Russian consulate in order to receive compensation for their dead or seriously injured children. The Nepalese government regularly advises against this new opportunity to go abroad. You might think that this news would now dissuade young Nepalese from joining the Russian army, especially as they then often fight against other Nepalese recruited by the Ukrainian army, but that's not the case: there are always offers abroad to lure Nepalese into the most dangerous areas of the world, and they jump at them without wanting to know what exactly is happening in these countries beforehand.

The hundreds of thousands of people who have been working for starvation wages in the Emirates, Korea and India for some time are finding it increasingly difficult to send money home to their families because, despite living six or seven to a room, they are barely able to cover their own running costs in these countries. Ever since the mayor of Kathmandu, Balendra Shah, banned street vendors from selling their wares on the city's pavements, life for the poor has remained difficult. Those who defy the ban are repeatedly beaten, arrested and abused by the police to such an extent that the Nepal Society for Human Rights has filed a lawsuit against the mayor.

Even the middle class suffers from no longer being able to shop at the small street vendors because the products there were much cheaper than in the authorized small shops. For the Madhesis, our »Maute« clan that we have been looking after for years, everyday life is not easy either. The men, who are no longer allowed to sell their home-made medicines or practice their healing methods on the street, are forced to leave the Kathmandu valley for several days at a time to work in distant villages. The advantage is that they are not discriminated against there because of their dark skin color as they are in Kathmandu. The needy farmers are happy to receive favorable treatment and even offer their »healers« something to eat and a place to spend the night. Women and girls enjoy the newly acquired cleanliness in their tin huts and can hardly believe that they have lived in the middle of rubbish dumps for so many years.

The older girls in particular, who have consciously witnessed the development towards a better life, make their parents promise that they will let them go to school until they complete their Nepalese A-levels. Only the women still go begging from time to time when food is too scarce. The children and teenagers refuse to accompany them and say that they never want to live like their parents and will never beg in their lives.

Many Madhesis and people from mountain villages get married at 14 or 15, which has long been forbidden in Nepal, but is unfortunately becoming fashionable again at the moment. For our ‘Maute’ girls, it is out of the question and their parents accept their wish: The fact that their children can now read and write in English and Nepal! commands great respect from their illiterate parents. Four of the older girls have been attending a sewing and tailoring course since April, after school finishes in the afternoon, and are practicing with a sewing machine that we bought them. Every Madhesi clan has its own rules: just like our »Maute« people, the Madhesis, who live under tents made from old saris and whose children we have recently started looking after, follow their own way of life: as soon as problems arise, the men get together and make the necessary decisions for the community. The women of this clan collect old cotton clothes and make potholders. The men work on building sites, if they can find one, or in garages, but they are only paid half as much as the light-skinned Nepalese of the Kathmandu Valley. They look after their wives much better than our ‘Maute’ men and do their best to feed their families as well as possible. Large shipments of chickens arrive in Kathmandu every week. Due to the bad roads and the brutal driving style of the lorries, 5 to 10 percent of the chicken loads arrive in Kathmandu each time.

Before they came to Kathmandu, they ate mice and rats. In every family, at least two sons must be born in case the first son dies, and in this community, there is a family with 7 daughters who are still waiting for the long-awaited son! We feed the children with our milk porridge enriched with vitamins and minerals. The very young ones go to our kindergarten, while 10 older ones, who we have already alphabetized, have been attending school since April. It will take a long time for these people to get used to permanent hygiene, because they live in undignified conditions and we are unable to provide them with decent housing due to lack of money. To protect them all from the heavy rains of the monsoon, however, we have bought them sturdy plastic tarpaulins.

We would like to thank you all for your support for our work in Nepal and will be in touch at the beginning of December with the donation receipts and news from Kathmandu.

Kind regards

Elisabeth Montet