Whilst most of his fellow citizens do not have access to medical help, the Nepalese prime minister, SUSSIL KOI-RALA, regularly commutes between Kathmandu and New York where he has radiation therapy against lung cancer. A long time ago used radiation equipment was donated to Nepal from rich foreign countries. For middle class Nepalese! this has to suffice, even when most of them have to part from their possessions in order to be able to pay the high costs of the treatment. The poor who have cancer are not even given this possibility. We feel miserable because we cannot help the women from the slums with this treatment. That is why we have now decided to organize an explanation programme in the hope of keeping the evil within some limit.
"Our" RITA from the former Children's World is now a nurse and with MUNA and SUSHMA she teaches the women to undertake an early detection examination on themselves each month. They could see on other women with cancer how an untreated breast cancer in the end stage turns into an almost unbearable nightmare and they are particularly eager to learn. In the meantime, we ask ourselves questions about the sense of this explanation programme since several women ought to go desperately to a mammography, which costs as much as a month's wages of a school teacher. In the end our efforts are as such: The women who have symptoms do not go to the urgent examinations because they, as they say time and again, do not have any money for them.
At present, Muna is trying to motivate them to take over responsibility for themselves and at the same time is negotiating discounts at a hospital. The women think that WE have to pay because Kinderhilfe Nepal - as they believe - is endlessly wealthy and should not only support children. There is a lack of medical support not only in the slums but in the whole of Nepal. A Nepalese woman gives birth to on average between 6 - 11 children alone at home without having ever been examined. Even in Kathmandu there are problems: the doctors of the largest state hospital went on strike recently because they could not carry out their occupation due to a lack of medical equipment. And since the government does nothing to fight the environmental pollution, cancer is a flourishing illness in the Himalayan state.
The air and water are polluted with heavy metals and chemicals. Even in the vegetables which are sold daily on the market 45% pesticides were traced in August and for a few days it was forbidden to sell them. On the following day however the polluted products were found again in the south of the country where they were sold for half the price to the population. Not less than 1,331 firms which offer Indian pesticides in Nepal have successfully set up business in Kathmandu and they are determined to continue to make good business.
In the slums of Banshigat and Thapatali our nutrition and education program continues and we regularly deliver drinking water to the two settlements. In the tent camp of the Maute nomads the people are not permanently resident and our commitment is mainly of a medical manner. Also with these peole one has to learn how to handle them. The Maute are already married as babies even when the actual marriage takes place when they have reached the age of fifteen. For centuries they marry amongst themselves and time and again these otherwise very attractive people give birth to many children with a cleft lip or palate or other inborn disfigurations. We had to get used to the fact that the parents consider such children as a good source of income when begging on the street and they avoid every operation which, by the way, could be carried out for free in Kathmandu. They do not decline directly but for example say that they will let the operation be carried out in the winter, knowing well that they will then no longer be in Kathmandu.
We have invested too much time and energy in such cases, have organized and prepared a lot so that everything goes well for the child. When we arrived on the day as arranged in order to collect the mother and child for the operation they were already long gone.
More and more men from the slums work in Malaysia or the Emirates, but the families hope often in vain for the money which they earn there as slaves. Many of them apply for jobs at bad job agencies which spring up everywhere and promise work against a down-payment of money and then disappear again overnight with enormous sums of money. Qatar, due to the Football World Cup in 2022, has become a particular destination for the poor. For Nepal a change of location for these games would be a real economical catastrophe. The men who stand in long queues at Kathmandu airport waiting for their flight with Qatar Airways or Air Arabia know in the meantime what sort of life awaits them. And nevertheless they want to leave because at home there is only hardship and without work they are no longer respected.
At least their wives then no longer have to worry any more about getting pregnant again. When we spoke to them about family planning and suggested various methods it came out that the men strictly refuse to use condoms and are not even interested in better hygiene. Medication against infections was distributed and the idea evolved to start up a Women's Club in which women should commit themselves to refuse to sleep with their unclean men. In the meantime we smile skeptically about such decisions. We continue our work unperturbed and at least the hundreds of children who we look after profit from it.
Many thanks to all of you for your loyal support. Until next December with new [and old] from Kathmandu!