Since His Majesty King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev seized power on 1 February 2005 and declared himself absolute monarch, the political situation in Nepal is desperate. During his birthday his portrait was displayed in shop windows in the whole country. The media acclaim the monarch day by day, while many journalists are in prison or simply disappeared. Various political groups formed a single political party, which demands negotiations with the Maoist rebels and a return to democracy. Due to the presence of army and police in the Kathmandu valley it is yet in the firm grip of the King.
Whenever His Majesty returns after a journey from the airport police units chase and beat for whole 10 minutes everybody and anything moving in his way. Women, children, nobody is spared: the roads have to be empty. Dilip, our bookkeeper was just on his way home, when several policemen so crudely lashed out at him that he got a deep injury at his hip. As much as one would like to take action against such behaviour, one has to keep silent. To file a suit would mean, in our instance for example, the end of our project. The Maoist rebels want the UN to mediate for negotiations with the now single political party. But since this party declines the offer, the situation is blocked. Highways to India and China are safeguarded by army, otherwise the rebels wield power in most parts of the country, and although they do not have too many weapons at their disposal they are a real challenge and danger for the King's army. There are killings and torturing at both sides, which are denounced by toothless human rights organisations, but Nepal falls more and more into the oblivion of the world.
Whereas the despot increased in the new annual budget his living cost by 36%, the country gets poorer and poorer. Tourists being warned at home stay away from Nepal. Hotels and restaurants are empty, unemployment increases dramatically. If anybody is lucky enough to be able to found a company, he only employs his relatives and people from his own caste, even if they are not qualified for the job. Even banks and big companies work along these lines.
Our older children find this kind of acting outrageous, for all of them hail from a social environment of utter poverty and do not have any connections with big shots. Three of them, Hareram, Santsoh and Saroj are striving, as most Nepalese do, to find work as electricians or mechanics in the gulf countries. There they will earn hardly anything by normal standards, but still it will be 10 times more than in Nepal, provided that they would find work here at all. All would be too glad to live in our beautiful home, but no drop of water comes from the water taps.
The government provides water only for two hours a day, which we collect in a tank, but it is not enough for 60 people and this means we have to part from this site: We have to move again. A very irksome thought, for shortage of water is a feature in most parts of the city and we have to find quarters, which will be able to withstand the major earthquake foretold by scientists. The older girls and boys will live in two apartments, whereas we shall reduce the inmates of Children's World to 25 younger children and 5 faithful staff members. We shall provide the older ones with money for house rent, university fees and dry food (lentils, rice, soybeans, etc), we shall also cater for their medical needs. They will have to cook their own food and learn how to manage their affairs themselves. Every Saturday they will have to gather at the main building and attend an obligatory meeting, in order to exchange news and solve problems that might have turned up.
In a small shop of Kathmandu we came across Sunita. She is 17 years old, hails from a very poor background and she had two large tumours on her neck. Since her parents had no money for a doctor, we bore the costs for the treatment. She was operated upon and was lucky: It was not cancer, but "only" glandular tuberculosis. The tumours were removed, for a few months she gets the expensive medicine from us, which are supposed to cure her, and we pay her for a tailoring and seamstress training, so that she can make her own living.
Our girls with much admirable enthusiasm work in the slums as before. In front of the school we installed a water tap and a toilet. We also covered the sewage pipes which we laid with earth and sand, in order to convert the area into a playground. The children thrive well on the good food, rich in vitamins and minerals, which they daily get. Sija, who is managing this project, never closes the school, for she is reluctant to put at risk the achievements she has made so far. She keeps close contact to the mothers of the children, who have formed a task force by themselves: Armed with sticks 60 women patrol in small groups from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. the narrow lanes of the slums, and intervene at once, when a woman is being beaten by a drunken husband. They also confiscate playing cards, because men in the slums gamble away at night the little money which they earn during the day. This task force is respected by now and we bought them torch lights, in order to facilitate their work. Women solidarity in the slum - this is very nice to see, for Nepalese people are by nature rather tradition-minded.
In one of the class rooms there is a real small pharmacy, and Sija can fall back on her crash course as a nurse almost daily and dress wounds. The school is overcrowded, and we have to build urgently two new classrooms, but the slum people occupy land, which belongs to the government. We daily see that around the miserable colony new expensive houses are being built, and it is just a question of time, that like in other poor countries, one fine day, bulldozers from the government will arrive and level the slums. The slum people think they are able to resist - at least they tell it now. In fact however, got the moment, thanks to our girls we are working very well with the 120 children of this community and we have achieved a lot. This success we also owe to all of you, and although our situation in Nepal at times looks quite hopeless, we take new courage and we will not give up!
We wish you all the best till the next newsletter in December, which will be accompanied by the donation receipts for 2005.
Many loving greetings and regards!