As much as one would like to be able to report something positive on the development of Nepal, we have nothing that could be considered as good news. Because the Maoist ministers have not had the necessary majority to govern, they have all resigned. Under the leadership of the new Prime Minister Madav Kumar Nepal, who was elected after longing for years after this post - nothing happens. The newspapers only report of the cholera epidemic, which is spreading in the remote parts of the country. Hundreds of people are dying from lack of food and medicines. Since these areas are accessible only after many days march, nobody seems to want to take the trouble to go there to provide assistance. In addition to the epidemic the growing crime rate is the main theme in the press: children are abducted and people are killed for no apparent reason.The police remain passive and are also incapable of dealing with the daily protests and acts of violence on the streets. No, nothing really changes in Nepal.
On the other hand, there are many new things from our project to report:
First of all, there is no more Children's Home. The Head Office of Children's Aid Nepal is now in Meenas modest house on the outskirts of Kathmandu. There live her two daughters, Angela and Aruna, our former chef Anita with her son Nelson, Siya, who works for us in the slum, and Prakash, the brother of our late Pramod, who is now studying food technology. Currently Kusum also lives there and is looking for work, having just successfully completed her Masters in Business Administration in Thailand. In the city, 6 girls share a small apartment, they have to study for another 2 years before they finish their nursing and pharmacist training. Five children are in boarding school. There's also Deepak who will soon finish his Bachelor's degree in Psychology in Thailand, the blind Goma, who is struggling for her degree in English in Delhi, and Smita and Tenzing, who are studying physiotherapy in Bangalore. Therefore our mission to educate 60 children from Children's World has come to an end. From now on we will apply ourselves only to the slum children.
In "our" Pathivaraslum something happened to Sija who has been working hard there for the Children's Aid Nepal for five years.
In mid-June when the school was full and just as the food was being handed out to the children in came three men from Slum-comitee - sent them all back home, changed all the locks in the premises leased by us, and drove Sija away. Then negotiations were held with this committee by a lawyer who represented us. To the question "why" we are still awaiting an answer. By contrast, the men were clear on one point: The support of the Children's Aid Nepal was welcome, but they now wanted to receive our money directly and manage it themselves! Who here in Europe could understand that these people are destroying with their stupid, stubborn, and completely irrational behavior so easily the positive enviroment that we have given to their children and to their entire community?? Since our answer was a categorical no to this request, the committee is now trying to register our school with the government, until now without success. Our last visit there made us very sad: Only two classrooms from the 6 rooms we had rented, were occupied. The children present were seated on the floor. Of the facilities, which we had installed over the years, there was no trace to be seen. Whether they had been sold or hidden, we do not know. In July my daily attempts to speak personally with the men of the committee, couldn't take place. They were, they confessed to Meena on the phone, too scared ... our Nepalese friends discouraged us from pursuing the matter further, because, they say, it is far too dangerous. Nepalese people are very frightened people, who live outside the law, and anyone who wants to defend his rights, must reckon with violence and reprisals. The police will not help, because they are scared themselves... Still a large meeting has been planned for October, which will be attended by leaders from the other Slumkomitees in Kathmandu and where we want to resolve the problem at all costs.
The Pathivaraslum had grown through our commitment to a "5-star slum," and we are now able to observe whether the so-popular slogan "help yourselves" really works. What we have achieved in Pathivara, the slum dwellers can continue for themselves...if they only want to ... We know that the children currently receive no food and that the little ones are not allowed to go to school. We also know that the mothers are very sorry, that they have not prevailed against the men who are destroying our project there. Since we did not want their children to be punished by this incident, we have enrolled 45 of them in a government school and will carry on paying their future educational costs.
Events that appear at once negative and painful, can also cause something positive, and it would really have to be something worse than the aggression of a few immature males, so we won't give up! Poverty in Nepal is so very common that it was not difficult to continue working immediately elsewhere on our Children's Help project. In July, we have set up in another major slum a nursery for 2 to 4 year olds. Especially at this age, our vitamin-and mineral-rich diet is extremely important in order to allow children to develop well mentally and physically. Ánd it is not just the 50 or so who regularly visit the nursery, but also babies and the older malnourished children of the neighborhood that get a bowl full of our rich milk porridge at lunchtime. The slum of Bongshigat has for us a big advantage: The Women's Committee there is very strong and well organized and is solely responsible for the welfare of families. For the mothers of the children the nursery is of great importance because it allows them now to look for work. The men are often unable to earn money, and women typically work on construction sites, where they carry sand and cement on their backs, or they go to wealthier people to wash clothes. Together with them we are trying to gradually improve the living conditions of the community. Our new employees Sangita and Djaynti live in the slum. Djaynti is strong,and of a motherly nature, who fears no one and does not hesitate to confront the menacing-looking young men in the slums or in the evening to bring our dishes back in the tents again, that had somehow "magically" disappeared from our kitchen ...
And so we are starting from scratch! This is often very tiring, but we are always aware of what we are working for in this country: to help people who by their culture and the climatic conditions are not able to help themselves. While it is their smiles so full of hope, which always gives us the strength to continue, it is above all you who strengthen us by your faithful support.
Without you, the Children's Aid Nepal could not celebrate its twentieth birthday this year. Very few aid agencies in Nepal survive more than 3 to 5 years. But the fact that you're here with us, in a really disheartening phase, is the crucial point that gives us time and time again the necessary energy to carry on!
Thank all of you,
Love and peace till the next Newsletter in December!