Despite the oftentimes-violent protests by the separatist Madhesis, the first communal elections in 20 years took place in Nepal in July. The communists won. In second place was the conservative congress party, which received more votes than the shrinking Maoist fraction. The leader of the party, P.K. Kahal, who was also the incumbent prime minister, tried to form a governing coalition with the right wing congressional party. This lost him many of his followers, who now saw him as a traitor. After the communal election, he had to stand down from the congressional party, because the political figure S.B. Deuba who had been in the picture for the past 30 years, had beat him. Nepal has more than 30 active political parties and the coalition for the formation of the government does not depend on the partisan orientation of the parties as such. More so, it depends on the size of the ego of the men, who get closest at the top of the political ranks.
Most of the survivors of the detrimental earthquake of 2015 are spending their second monsoon period under plastic canvasses, because they are still waiting for help from the government. There is barely any oversight regarding the expenditure of international donor money, but no one discusses the matter either. Due to the exceptionally extensive rainfall of this year, many regions of the country have been afflicted with flooding: Countless makeshift shelters have been washed away and landslides have swallowed entire villages. Once again these events could have been forecasted beforehand; instead, the government continues to be incapable of supporting the victims by sending trained rescue teams to the affected areas.
Although this much rain has plagued the country, the lack of potable water has been particularly dramatic. The rainwater now mixes with the river water, which is already contaminated with wastewater and faeces. This new mixture then pollutes the valuable groundwater. The Nepalese commission for human rights has appealed to the government to act and frequently reminds it that Nepal signed the UN Charta for International Human Rights. This compels any signatory government to provide for the well-being of its people.
However, the government remains ignorant. Its neglect and its incompetence to take structured and organized actions, is further impaired by the shortage of laborers. Large parts of the Nepalese population would rather sell themselves to the Gulf region to work and live in inhumane conditions, than to work for less money in Nepal, whilst actually contributing to the improvement of their country. The slums of Kathmandu have been worsened by the problems of the rainy season, because its settlements are located right at the shore of the Bagmati River. The work of Kinderhilfe Nepal continues, and we have been regularly stocking two of "our" slums - approximately 4000 people- with large volumes of potable water. The inhabitants of the Thepatali slum are now positioned even worse, because the government has recently forced them to move their slum right to the edge of the polluted river.
Our "Health-post" under plastic canvasses had to move too, and Muna continues to provide medical support whilst residing in the foul smell of capital city wastewater. The council of the community has finally allowed the slum to connect itself to the network of electricity that runs through the area. Whilst this is good news on the one hand, it also means that the previously planned resettlement of the slum will now not happen for a few more years at least. At the same time, the children of the slum have lost their excuses for not doing their homework at night time anymore. Muna makes sure that they also consume our nutritious milk pudding on a daily basis. She has tried to motivate both the children and the adults to keep the settlement clean, but unfortunately the cleaning activities only last for short periods of time. Somehow, no one wants to learn to not throw their waste wherever they are standing at the time.
Nevertheless, the slum of Banshigat has continued to develop in a positive manner. Although, its inhabitants also need to live close to the river, our 12-year long work there is definitely visible. There too, we see floodings ever year. Muna has been using the villages well-equipped medical centre to treat the diseases that the polluted water has caused. The costs in Nepal have been on the rise, which has unfortunately caused us to only be able to treat for the health of the children, whilst curing minor infections. As soon as the life of adults is in danger, we have to send them to the hospital. Despite Muna's contrary advice, many adults get proper medical help too late. This causes them to then face unaffordable debts, if they do want to get healed. Otherwise, they die, because they simply cannot find the funds to get treated. Sushma has successfully led the kindergarten and school. By showing much effort and patience, she manages to makes the children literate. They then go on to attend the state school, which we pay for them.
The 20 families whom we built earthquake proof shelters have continued to evolve fabuously. It is incredible to realize how a good and worthy environment can change the behaviours of humans. An example of this is the new presence of showers and toilets. This has caused most of the people to look more well-groomed and put together than previously. We have also found that it has made them more aware of the cleanliness and hygiene in their surroundings. The 40 other families that weren't quite as lucky, because we were not able to build earthquake proof houses for them, still live under plastic canvasses. However, it has still been clear that they have been affected by the new lifestyle of the 20 families that have gotten these houses: the general life style in Mudhku is becoming more and more neat.
We are still teaching the 500 children from the village school in the makeshift school, which we built from sturdy corrugated metal sheets. The teachers and school principals were able to go right back to work after the earthquake, due to the work of Kinderhilfe Nepal. It is likely that it will take years before the government of Nepal constructs new buildings. Meanwhile, Muna has taught her mother how to give the children first aid for small wounds and provide medication for fever and diarrhoea effectively.
So far, "our" 35 nomad families have lived under pathetic tents, which were created from textiles and pieces of plastic. In order to protect them from the intense monsoon, we have bought them tough and resistant tents that are manufactured from a textile material, which is strengthened with synthetic materials. Fewer children will become sick whilst living in these new tents. Muna and Sushma are dealing with the acute needs of the people, but they aren't developing any further. They are still happy, free and unreliable. It is the women who keep the families together and send the naïve men to work every day in order to have food. The Maute nomad men are only truly good at begetting children: this is further expanding on the number of funny, cheeky, and always-playing children at a constant. Nevertheless, these people are truly grateful for our support, which makes them different from many other slums, where the people are quick to become unfriendly when they feel like we are not giving them enough of our time or resources.
Once again, we have to thank Mrs Dr. Anke Gaußmann from the St. Vinzenz Hospital in Hanau. She returned to Kathmandu with three of her colleagues, examining the women and children in three of our slum settlements and the villages of Mudhku with much care.
Many thanks to all of you who continue to support us and allow us to work in Nepal effectively. Like always, the invoices for your donation will be sent to you with a new Newsletterin December.