Last July a fatal assassination took the lives of twelve Nepalese security guards employed by the Canadian Embassy in Kabul. This event caused headlines in Kathmandu, centring on the unworthy labour standards that hundreds of thousands of Nepalese workers are enduring in Malaysia, the Gulf States and other war zones. Our western embassies and UN agencies are not hesitating to employ cheap Nepalese labour forces to do highly hazardous work in order to save money as well as the lives of their own citizens. After work, these twelve security guards were driven to their lodging, without any protection, when their bus exploded. Nevertheless, such terrible events are not preventing the many dubious Nepalese procurement agencies from sending masses of people abroad for large amounts of money.
The state is closing its eyes in front of this fact, because the country primarily survives on the foreign currency that these workers send back home. It is common that the workers passports are confiscated as they arrive at their destination. This procedure insures that the worker cannot leave his employee or the country before his contract expires. Regardless of a worker's discontent, this gives the employers the discretion to treat their employees extremely harshly knowing that they will not be able to flee the country.
Most of the time, loans are not paid very regularly and if they are only half of the promised wage is paid. Increasingly, women become part of this marginalized labor as they end up in Arabic households as maids or servants. One young lady from the former "Children's Wolrd", is currently working as a gofer in Saudi Arabia. She is being treated like a prisoner and is forced to wear a burka. Facebook is her only connection to the outside world and she deeply regrets that she ran away from her childhood home with a taxi driver, shortly before completing her high school degree. Now she has a child and thought that she could earn money in the "Golden overseas" to be able to give her daughter schooling. Whilst her pay just about covers this, she is having to endure a life without dignity.
The political situation in Nepal remains chaotic. It has been a year and a half since the earthquake and the government has just begun to use the foreign donations for the reconstruction of the land. This delay was caused by the corruption of several different political parties that have been trying to secure themselves financial advantages in the allocation of the donations. Despite a harsh winter and the second monsoon period, the victims of the earthquake are still waiting for help. Floods and landslides are destroying their huts that were constructed with corrugated metal or plastic. Even though the Nepalese government is aware of the famine that is going on in several parts of the remote regions of the Himalayas, it is continuing to sell the thousands of tons of rice that China sent a year ago as emergency relief support for the victims of the earthquake.
The EU only just sent half of their promised 100 million euros to the Nepalese government in mid July 2016. This money is set to be used to rebuild schools and streets. However, the EU-ambassador highlighted, that the European Union would be monitoring the expenditure of this money very closely in order to make sure that these buildings will actually be rebuilt according to the new "earthquake proof" safety regulations. Only after the government can show that this is occurring according to protocol, will the second payment of 50 million Euros follow. The World Bank also committed to paying Nepal 2000 Euro per family that was affected by the earthquake. This money is to be paid in three instalments. However, so far the money has not reached the families and even if it does, the amount is by far not enough to build a simple, but earthquake proof house.
We are very excited that we were able to honour our pledge: in the village of Mudhku the 20 earthquake proof houses have been completed. Mrs Karin König from Oldenburg, who financed ten of these houses on her own, visited from Germany with her son and her granddaughter, in order to inaugurate the new houses. This inauguration turned into a large, spontaneous celebration that will remain in all of our memories (see photos). The 60 families of the village that are still living in our makeshift Tarpaulin shelters did not show any envy, but did not take part in the festivities.
After we used the money that received right after the catastrophe, for the construction of the temporary accommodation for the 80 families in need and the school, we unfortunately only had enough left to build 20 earthquake proof houses. Mudhku is a very spread-out village. In order to save money, the villagers and the architects decided to reconstruct the houses in the most highly populated area. The financial situation of the families with many children was also considered. In the end, every house built cost 7000€ and the entire construction effort is still being looked at by an independent architect, before the final cost will be disclosed.
It was not easy to successfully plan and complete this construction project. Muna and Sushma passed on the pressures from Germany to the engineers for six months without being discouraged. Even though we all had to use all of our assertiveness and a lot of energy for the building of these houses, it was definitely worth it.
Approx. three million residents of Kathmandu are lacking power and water, even during the current rainy season. We are continuing to use lorries to transport drinking water to the slums of Banshigat and Thapathali three times a week. Our work there continues: we serve a milk pudding that is rich in vitamins and minerals to 300 children every day. The kindergarten continues to be a big help for the mothers who spend their days on construction sites or working as a maid in order to feed their families. Muna maintains the hygiene and health, as she splits her time each day to help in each village.
The Maute Nomads have reappeared in Kathmandu. Muna and Sushma visit them three times a week with the hope of improving their lifestyles in some way. In this ethnic group, children are born very frequently, whilst the malnourished mothers cannot provide the necessary milk to keep them alive. Thus, we have started to distribute milk powder as well as disinfecting soap, tooth paste and tooth brushes… The hand-out of these vital products is an everyday battle for us. This is the case, because the behaviour of these nomads towards us has not improved at all over the years. They plunge towards us like wild animals, in order to insure that they will get the products they need. They do not shy away from using violence and the best-case scenario of this part of our work is the saving the lives of one or two children. However, this work is by far not as satisfying as our work in the slums of Thapathali and Banshigat.
We thank you all dearly for your support of the Kinderhilfe Nepal and would like to pass you on a particularly special thank you from the 20 families from Mudhku who are now living under dignified circumstances for the first times in their life. Previously they dealt with their needs out in the fields, and now they own a toilet and the opportunity to shower: for most Nepalese people a great luxury!