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

Newsletter August, 2008

Dear Friends,

Six months ago, the Maoist former rebels were unable to achieve an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections. Since none of the other parties wanted to form a coalition with them, it took several months of negotiations to finally reach agreement on the election of Maoist leader Prachanda as prime minister in mid-August. Now he's in the process of forming a new government. The monarchy has now been abolished and the Nepalese Republic has been declared. In addition to the endless power struggles of politicians of all kinds, there was a major problem: the southern province of Terai is demanding its autonomy and its leaders will have to be integrated into the new government.

During these long and fruitless months, a famine has spread in North Nepal: not only because of the global economic crisis, but also because of the policies of the Chinese, who are closing their borders with Nepal for fear of Tibetan protests, thus preventing the transport of relief supplies and food to the country. The Nepalese government, which has so far been powerless, wants to preserve the grace and benevolence of China's giant neighbour and acts brutally against the Dalai Lama's followers. More than 800 non-violent Tibetans are waiting in Nepal's already overcrowded prisons for a possible liberation. The scarcity of gasoline and the priceless prices for all kinds of fuel are paralysing the country's life and most companies are forced to close. Contaminated water and mountains of foul-smelling, disease-causing waste on the streets of the capital city threaten the health of its inhabitants. Protests from all sides are preventing everyday life: once it is the taxi and bus drivers who prohibit traffic to express their anger at the increase in the price of gasoline, another time the students burn car tires because the school and university fees have become even more expensive. Women's groups, traders and even children's gangs demonstrate and throw stones at every vehicle that dares to enter the streets.

Slums are springing up like mushrooms because the people of the Himalayas in Kathmandu hope to ease their living conditions. When the old government announced the evacuation and destruction of at least 50% of the slums, thousands of slum people occupied the streets. The inhabitants of our slum were also present, although it is not yet on the evacuation list. Through our work with the children and women he has become a "5-star slum". Most of the people in the settlement have joined the Maoist party. While their leaders fought for political power for months, their followers have deepened their roots in the capital and are in the process of establishing a new organized social class among the poor. This could one day prove fatal for the country's conservative forces.

Sija has had genuine interlocutors in the slum for four months: young men and women who not only accept our support, but also work hard and sincerely to improve the life of the community. With their help and the pressure they exert on the authorities, we have finally brought drinking water to the middle of the slum. Two 10,000 liters of water reservoirs have been installed, and every day the women queue up to get the precious water. The children's aid for Nepal will cover the costs; the distribution will be supervised by Sija and three members of the slum committee. So far, the Maoists have not put any pressure on us. People actually have simple needs that we meet. They are grateful for that. There are no political discussions.

The children benefit more than ever from the regular food they receive from us every day, because the basic food has become so expensive that hardly anyone can afford it. Because we have to take care of more and more children, we have hired an additional force from the slum. Shova has just graduated from high school and belongs to a group of women who work with an educational programme on girls' abuse in schools. We were able to rent two more rooms for little money in the neighboring hut of the school, and we had to have new benches and tables made by the slum carpenter. The violence of the men has subsided through the Women's Defense Command, and if there is a problem of violence now, the Maoist security guards are called from a nearby precinct, so that new order reigns in the community.

Alcoholism remains a major problem and destroys entire families such as those of Rijha Pariyar. Her daughters are good schoolgirls, but her mother drinks so much rice schnapps that in the evening she becomes a fury and beats up her hard-working husband. There is a kind of institution in Kathmandu in which alcohol addicts spend six months with a variety of people who are dependent on alcohol.

Our honorary nurse Swechha continues to help Sija and distributes every six months a remedy against worms, which repeatedly plague the children because they eat impure food at home. They are slowly learning to be clean. Otherwise they are forced to wash their clothes in school with Sussilas help. They go home a little embarrassed and gradually make their mothers work with them to improve hygiene. In the rest of the project, five girls have passed their school-leaving exams this year.

We have decided to support them in their three-year studies: Two of them will be nurses, two health assistants and a pharmacist. With their diploma they will not be able to work abroad, but only in the larger cities of their home country, or they will work in remote villages of Nepal like doctors and help their fellow men. While the poorer Nepalese flee to the Arabian Gulf states to sell themselves as cheap laborers, all the intelligent and educated forces leave the country and hope to make big money in the USA or Australia. This tendency is contrary to the aim of our aid work, because it would be a bitter pity to have trained these children for so many years that they would end up abandoning their country.

There has been fierce debate in the now small group of Children's World about this issue, where everyone has come to realize that an organization such as Children's World is not there to provide them with luxury, but to give them a dignified life and work to help others who are in desperate need of it. Only three of our young people study abroad because they are particularly brilliant. The others, as well as those who have already left the project, will remain in Nepal and actively participate in the development of the country. Our work is now mainly in the slums and we are happy that some of them, like Sija, find their fulfilment in this work.

She tells the slum people how the money for improving their living conditions comes together. Many people are often amazed that the aid they actually expect from their government comes from such a distant country, and they all thank you for your valuable support.

Again a heartfelt thank you from us and all the best and love until December!

Yours sincerely

Elisabeth Montet