Anyone who has been involved in a project in Nepal for so many years as we have will now and then experience hard times; subsequently your impatience with the passive character of the Nepalese will grow and you will feel like a fool who trying to move the Himalaya Mountains. Hence it happens quite often that relief projects near the "roof of the world" do not survive for more than 3 to 5 years. The stagnant political state of affairs in the country seems to rub off on the mindset and behaviour of its citizens. Never, during the past 18 years has Nepal been in such a chaotic and intransparent situation as now. The Maoist rebel leaders, who have been part of the government for three months now, were called upon by their members at grass root level, to resign from their posts and resume their armed fight. Their movement has meanwhile split into many different and conflicting armed groups. The acting government stays silent in a weird manner just as the newspapers and other media do.
Therefore, the intellectuals in the country once again protest against the lack of freedom of press. Daily turmoil and the heavy floods caused by the monsoon paralyze the country. Thus each day becomes a fresh adventure. Just one example: If a policeman is rude with a cab driver, the whole of the Kathmandu Valley will be paralyzed, all shops are closed down and nobody dares to drive a car through the streets, for any vehicle seen might be destroyed or burnt by the angry taxi drivers. Mostly one does not know at all, why the city stands still again and the 1.5 million inhabitants remain inside their houses. Anybody who is interested to know the reason may find it out only in the evening and with huge effort he may come to know, why he could not go to work that day. Even if they lose one day's wage, most Nepalese will not be reluctant to remain at home, play cards or watch cheap Indian movies.
But suppose the daily life would really run smoothly, it would make no sense to run a car, because nobody heeds the traffic rules and everybody tries to move ahead with a virtually incredible ferocity. It might also happen that one is stuck in a traffic jam for three or four hours, where various lines of cars confront each other and have no alternative to move out. If by chance there is a policeman nearby, he will just laugh sullenly and use his whistle without any sense. And all this does happen although nowadays there are fewer cars on the road than usual, because the capital is lacking fuel and diesel. The ethnic groups of the south protest for more rights and political participation and hence block the streets to Kathmandu.
Nobody knows what the future will bring to this country where new aggressive groups emerge each day and fight for their own respective advantage. The truth is that nobody knows who is who. The only well known fact is that these days anybody can easily get hold of modern Chinese weapons and that every day a number of murders are committed in the country. The Maoist leaders take advantage of the unstable situation and establish trade unions for every profession because they will serve as an organised political network when the elections are due in autumn. The government which is to maintain security and order remains inactive and, as usual, there are rumours that the big powers USA, India (and the king) are behind the debacle…. Meanwhile the "wealthy folks" try to leave the country by all means and start a new life in Australia, Great Britain or the USA.
Children's World and the inhabitants of the slums do not feel affected by this situation, because we are there to support them. So, they are more passive than ever, but they do try to carry out the action plan on which we worked together. Obviously they feel quite comfortable in the "paradise" that Children's Aid Nepal has procured for them. Meena, who is the head of the whole project, assists Sija and her team with the laborious task of improving the hygienic conditions in the slums. Nevertheless their daily fight against contagious pus rashes, abscesses and many other ills never ends. During the rainy season faeces enter and contaminate the ground water.
Three months ago we laid a pipeline, for the slightly cleaner government water to reach the slums. Yet, the responsible ministry decided not to connect the pipeline to their water system before November.
Currently we are constructing some more toilets and showers. The women continue to cooperate with us well and this really gives us courage. They regularly attend the evening school and by now they are able to read and to write. They are very eager to study further to be able to read newspapers. As they express it, they want to become more "clever" and stop leading a passive existence and waiting for their husbands to take the initiative in everyday life - which those rarely would do anyway. Thanks to the existence of the "Women Defence Commandoes" violence on part of men against women had decreased, but they were disbanded. After only two months women with black eyes stepped out of their sheds again in the morning; now the communal "sisters" organise themselves anew and again take up their nightly patrols across the colony with their clubs in their hands.
We had decided to help 35 year old Juma Chaudary by paying for the replacement of one of her heart valves, but the heart surgeon told us, with a 95% likelihood she would not survive surgery, because she came to the hospital too late; it now looks that he will not dare to undertake surgery at this stage.
Children's World our children study vigorously as before and four of our girls will sit their SLC at the beginning of 2008. Our blind Goma again attends university in New Delhi, because the prospects for her future in Nepal are dim. She pursues her English studies enthusiastically. The whole of last year Deepak had to make extreme efforts to get accustomed to the Western teaching methods which are in use at his American college in Thailand, where intelligent thought is required and promoted. He scores high marks and is determined, after completion of his studies, to become one of the first psychologists in Nepal.
A feeling of fear has crept again into Children's World: After we had to say a final good-bye to our Pramod a year ago, now our Nelson gives us worry. He suffers from "mesenteric lymph nodes", particularly in his belly. At the best it is a case of adrenostatic tuberculosis, at the worst of adrenostatic cancer. Since he is a child of only three years the doctors do not dare to take a tissue sample. Instead they have been giving him special antibiotics for three months and monitor him. We try to keep cool, for 2006 has been an awful year for us and we just refuse to accept that we will have to go through such dramatic times again.
As the monsoon floods have left thousands homeless and everywhere in the country people die from acts of violence and there is lack of food in 42 out of the 75 of Nepal's districts, our project gives about 400 children and women security and the possibility to live a dignified life.
We wish to thank you all, who make this possible und give us the courage to continue our fight against poverty and passivity. Be assured that it is your faithful presence behind the scenes that gives us the strength we need to carry on with determination.
Again we wish to thank you for your precious support and to express all our best wishes for the next weeks.