The few tourists, who despite warnings issued by the foreign offices of many countries did not want to forgo their trekking adventure this year in Nepal, first had to get accustomed to running into armed soldiers and police at every corner in Kathmandu. For the past twelve years the Monarchy of Nepal had as a constitutive one nothing but a representative value. Yet six weeks ago, in breach of every law, the new King dissolved the parliament and formed a new government out of his "friends", thus seizing power. All newspapers are now controlled by him and they daily report about the atrocities committed by maoists in various parts of Nepal.
Eye witnesses whom we met, relatives of our workers and people from the native villages of our children, to whom we talked, hold a totally different opinion about the rebels. People are generally terrorised, for if they make common cause with the maoists, they run danger of being killed by the army. Just to be suspected as a maoist, is enough to lose immediately one's life. The father of our little blind Sabitri, a poor farmer, told us last week that six armed rebels turned up at his place and asked him for food and shelter. They behaved well, and when they asked him next morning for a donation, the simple man replied, he had only 2.000 Rupees (about 26 Euro) left, which he saved the whole year to buy some clothes for his blind daughter. The rebels thanked him and went away without taking money from him. Nobody mentioned anything about violence against children, although newspapers report that the maoists use the population as a shield against the army. One thing is certain: Despite the enormous losses both among maoists and among soldiers of the royal army the power of the rebels remains unbroken. They already control about 40% of Nepal, and in many places they installed parallel local governments.
In November they called a three days' general strike, and in these days they succeeded in paralyzing the country totally. Shops remained closed, and if any car dared to go, it had to cover the number plate for fear of being attacked by rebels in front of the eyes of helpless soldiers and policemen. Again and again there are bomb explosions in Kathmandu, which work havoc in the residences of corrupt politicians and expensive private schools. The rebels called upon all schools to reduce their fees, so that children of poor parents also get access to a good education, but in spite of bombs the outrageous school business continues.
The rebel leaders went underground and recently have been searched for by Interpol. They say, they would be ready to negotiate, but not with such a "puppet government" as they call it, but only after new elections take place and democracy is reinstalled. The king says, he would agree to such talks, but so far these were only empty words, and daily 20 to 30 maoists are being killed by his army. Losses on the soldiers' side are not reported duly, but no day passes, that no corpses of dead soldiers and policemen would be consigned to the fire on the funeral pyres in the holy temple area Pashupatinath at the Bagmati river near Kathmandu, with their battalions lining up to salute. A very sad scene in this once peaceful place! George W Bush, who prides himself about defending "democracy" in all countries of the world, seems to take things in Nepal not so seriously, and only last week he announced to supply the unlawful king with further weapons and killing equipment worth millions of dollars in order to eliminate the "terrorists". The Maoists, however, vehemently defend themselves against being called such and dissociate themselves from Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
Meanwhile our children reel in luck in our children's home without giving much thought to the situation in their country, and they hardly feel touched by other peoples' misery. Formerly we were naïve enough to believe that the help we supply to all these children would be passed on some time in future to other people, who are at a disadvantage, but in spite of all the discussions we had with the children, they just ignore the misery around them. First they want to be able to earn much money and only afterwards they would help others, they told us. Baghat, one of our eldest, has finished his college education and sits at present for the numerous examinations which will enable him to serve later on for a few months as "captain" in the Nepalese army. That due to this profession he may become a potential murderer or even a dead man, he ignores, and he just sees the high status in society and the nice salary, which he is sure to enjoy right from the beginning in this establishment. He firmly believes that as an educated person he will remain sitting comfortably in the military offices in Kathmandu without being deployed against the maoists. For this purpose there are the illiterate, he argues… And when we asked him, what he would do, if one day he was ordered to point his gun at one of us, because he or she is suspected a maoist, he replied without hesitating a moment that he would shoot at once, for it would be after all his duty to obey and he wouldn't be able to act otherwise. A horrific picture for us, but he also did not feel comfortable either, and for a whole week after this discussion he was ruminating in his mind about this "small" conflict of conscience… at least!
Luckily other children study for more peaceful jobs and are progressing well. In November Holm Triesch from Bremen arrived, who has been supporting us since the beginning of this project, and he could convince himself of the excellent functioning of Children's World. He told the children about his attempt in the name of the Tibet Support Group of Germany to get some Tibetan prisoners released from the jail in Kathmandu. These people, who after having an audience with the Dalai Lama, were on their way back to Tibet, had been detained by the Nepalese police for lacking the necessary travelling documents and afterwards they were sentenced to 10 years prison or payment of 28.000 US$ each. Even this story hardly evoked any interest in the children. Holm created a webpage for the children's aid Nepal and we were more than surprised when a young German with excellent knowledge of English mailed us from an Internet-Café in Kathmandu and offered to teach the children for three months. Alex had spent seven years in England, and not only the children but also we were benefitted by his excellent accent.
Raj Kumar's strength is gradually failing, but he is being looked after in the best possible way and he remains the "prince" of all children, who always lovingly do what he orders them. This time Saroj had bad luck. He broke his right thigh bone and had to be operated upon. We were happy to see how Dinesh and Shanta, who long ago left the children's home, were able to come to grips with their lives. They are not very rich, but they have learnt at Children's World what it means to live in dignity and cleanness. Dinesh is "manager" of an Internet-Café and gets 4.500 Rupees (about 59 Euro) a month to support his family. Shanta is receptionist and her husband works as a taxi-driver. After he had forsaken her for a whole year, he now returned full of remorse and as a changed man. He tells, he gave up alcohol and drugs, for he converted to Christianity. Any free minute he reads the Bible and Shanta has to attend every week church services, although she would prefer to sleep longer on those days, she adds with a laugh. She does not feel very happy in this new religion, she says, because the priest threatens her, that her child will meet with misfortune if she continues to practice Hindu rituals along with her new religion. She had to weep this year because she was not able to give her brother the traditional sister's blessing. We tried to explain her that God certainly is not so narrow-minded and that she may keep up such a ritual, if it makes her happy and comfortable. But the people of the congregation were very strict and their judgement difficult to bear, she told. Therefore she now attends catechism classes and soon she will be baptized, for after all Jesus healed her husband and now she would have to bear all, even if she often felt very bored during holy mass. She remains the child with the "widest" heart of Children's World, whom we ever had there, and she merrily shares all she has with her poor neighbours. Still she is a joy for all of us!
Our staff do their jobs for the project with much enthusiasm and they form a warm-hearted group, ensuring the smooth daily running of the children's home. Khim is regularly informed about all problems, the daily communication with Germany functions well and the sixty people of Children's World lead a content and happy life. In contrast to the children our grown-up members are well aware of the good luck they have to be able to live in Children's World.
Together with the children we thank you all for your unfailing and loving support and we all wish you a joyful Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year in good health!
With kind regards