Since the moment, when during our last visit to Kathmandu on 1st June the whole royal family was brutally mordered in the palace, nothing in Nepal is as it was before. The new king, brother of the deceased king Birendra, was crowned immediately, although the people reject him. Most people silently suspect him to have his share in responsability in the terrible massacre. His son escaped as the only guest of the royal family meeting the shooting unharmed. For his evil doing and murdering he is ill-famed in Kathmandu. It is being rumoured that he enticed crown prince Dipendra to take drugs and too much alcohol, following which the otherwise considered good-natured prince shot his whole family in drunkenness. Ten people lost their lives.
What actually happened is not clear and probably there will be never any certainty. The Nepalese people, who respect the king as an incarnation of God Vishnu, was so much shocked, that it gave vent to its grief by strong emotional reactions in the streets. Army and police controlled the city and for one whole week curfew was imposed. Whilst more than half of the men in Kathmandu shove their hair as a symbol of mourning, we made as soon as possible our escape to Germany, because nobody could foresee which turn the events would take. It was not only armed gangs, who forced men to shave their heads.
Even Khim was compelled by his employer to do the same, for all employees, especially those in public service, simply were threatened with loss of their jobs, would they not have followed this order. Before we left Kathmandu we took care that enough food and basic medicine had been stored for a whole month. Schools remained closed for weeks, but our children were safe. Anybody who dared to go outside, was shot at by the police, and a few small children were even killed in the city, because they had ran outside to the street.
In the following months the maoists took advantage of the destabilized sitatuion in the country to strengthen their grip over the people. There was heavy and bloody fighting between army, police and rebels. For the first times there were some bomb explosions in the capital Kathmandu. The new Prime Minister could not do anything else under these circumstances than to call the rebels to the negotiation table. This already took place three weeks ago, but nobody knows, when and where the meeting will take place.
The economic situation of the country is getting from bad to worse. Royal Nepal Airlines stop their flights to Europe as from 1 September. This airline could have made good business if the company would have been managed properly and the leading managers would not have been so corrupt for many years. This corruption is a well-known fact and anyhow it prevails everywhere in the country, but now it is being more and more exposed by the maoists. Till recently they lived in Kathmandu in hiding. But nowadays they openly show their face and almost daily demonstrate. In many districts they are the law-makers, and they take away possessions and assets from the rich and distribute them to poor people. Alcohol and gambling are strictly forbidden, and anybody who leaves wife and children - a daily occurrence in Nepal - will be tried in court and sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. The legendary maoists leaders continue to hide in jungles; they already announced that despite all negotiations the "war of the people" will continue till they achieve their goal.
We at least used this fragile truce to continue our work in our childrens’ home and in August we again spent 10 days in Kathmandu. Another number of children passed the secondary school leaving exam and now they have to continue studying. Maoists are helpful in this respect, since they force private colleges and universities to reduce their fees. Many intellectuals are anyhow leftists and already negotatiate with the rebels. While the country is drown in poverty our children are faring quite well. Most Nepali students have to do some extra job to be able to pay for their university fees, their food and the rent for their miserable accomodation without running water and toilet, which usually four or five of them share.
Because our children behave rather like "sons of ministers" or "princesses", we have introduced some new measure in Children’s World: Graduates from high school have to pay 500 Rs. (roughly DM 18) and other students Rs. 1000 as contribution for their food and shelter to Children’s World. In order to survive outside they would need at least 5000 Rs. and still would not be able to afford the high fees for the costly universities in this country. They are not enthusiastic about this new rule, but they are still ready to make their contribution.
Raj Kumar is doing more or less well. His "chicken business" does not run so well, as he would like it to run. First the cock was fried in a kitchen pan because it destroyed the whole breed. Only three chicks hatched out, and one died after two months. The surviving one has turned into a splendid cock by now, which is constantly trying to descend upon its mother. Raj Kumar feels this is inbreeding and therefore he borrowed a cock from the neighbour, till the poultry finished its business with the hen. In the meantime, to be on the safe side, the frustrated son was kept in a cage. Shanta finished her training as a hair-dresser, and now lives outside Children’s World together with her aunt. Her "husband" now and then turns up and gives her a little money ...
Goma and Shree Krishna came for a two months holiday from India. Both develop quite well, especially our blind Goma, an exceptionally intelligent and brave girl. The rest of the troupe are doing their best - at least they claim to do so - at any rate they progress, although the achievement of some of them could be better. Especially in these times of unrest nobody knows what the future keeps in store, and the children are aware of their good luck to be able to live a safe life in all respects. All this is possible only due to all of you, and we thank you sincerely for your unfailing support, which makes it at least for "some" Nepalese children possible to lead a dignified life.
With kind regards
Elisabeth Montet - Uwe Pohlig