The chaotic political situation in Nepal is getting worse and worse. As the King's government did not want to take the simplest steps towards democracy, the Maoists called off the peace negotiations and again started their armed fightings. Now they are more aggressive than ever, because they are left rather helpless against the modern weapons, which Mr Bush delivered to King Gyanendra for support. Approximately 100 US-Army specialists are instructing the Nepalese Army, while the rebels, who were again classified as "terrorists", shoot policemen and army officers, rob off banks and kill all civilians whom they suspect of being army spies. In 2002 around 5000 persons died at both sides of the front and both sides are surpassing each other in cruelty, torture and massacres.
"Our" soldier Baghat is getting quite afraid, because soon he will be sent to fight the rebels. As the Maoists started killing even family members of soldiers of the Royal Army his father fled without any baggage from his village to Kathmandu. Meanwhile 10 out of the 23 million of the country's inhabitants are living in "liberated Nepal" and during the six months lasting armistice the Maoists gained foothold in the capital where they are now living underground. The foreign sponsoring countries, including Germany, are threatening to quit their aid, if the government does not succeed in restoring peace and democracy in Nepal. Almost daily the front pages of the newspapers tell, who is again donating millions of Euros to the Nepalese government. Great Britain, Germany, UNESCO and other UN-bodies are ready to support the country with 814 million US$ for educational purposes!!! And we - the small relieve organisations, who have to spend almost half of our budget for our children's school and university fees - wonder, where these huge amounts are going, for we know from our 15-years experience in Nepal, that education is accessible only to the rich and is constantly getting more and more expensive. This is the dark and obscure side of the huge volume of international aid for Nepal.
However, at "Children's World", the first generation of our children is thriving wonderfully. With Khim being able to take care exclusively of the administration of the project, our "seniour ones" have taken over the management of the children's house and they are very successful. Our new "Sir" is Deepak Lopchan, who joined us at the age of five. He is a serious, honest person and even the children are impressed by his natural authority. Sija, Bikram and Pema support him, while Dilip diligently takes care of the accountancy. During the meeting of all the children and employees that takes place daily at 8 pm they discuss the day's problems. The amount of money necessary for the next day will be handed out only after its use has been approved, after that Dilip collects the receipts for the expenditures of the current day. Considering the dangerous situation in the streets of Kathmandu in a special meeting it was decided that the boys have to be back at the children's home by 8 pm at the latest, while the girls even have to be in at 7 pm. Deepak is very strict about this matter and everyone, who is late and does not give a phone-call in time citing a plausible reason for his delay, has to pay a fine.
Our work in the slums is progressing well. We had a doctor examine the 50 kids in the school that was founded by Sija and Samjhana. All of them suffered from worm infection, many had chronic inflammations and three even had to undergo told it was useless, because first of all the mentality of the parents would have to be changed, as they were not caring properly for their children and preferring to buy rice liquor in the evening instead of feeding the kids properly. Our girls there and those committed to work in other slums hold a different opinion and think, that they can reach out to the mothers through their children and that things are slowly getting better. They visit the families in their huts and do whatever they can to improve the living conditions of their pupils. Some of the children are being abused so badly, that in Germany their parents would have been arrested long ago. One example is an old woman, who exploits a 12 year old orphan girl as a servant and beats her with a belt until her back is bleeding. Another 4 children and their mother are being beaten up daily by their drunken father. To call for the police would make no sense, since they are utterly unwelcome in the slums. Furthermore everybody knows that about this kind of incident they just will write a short report and then store it away in a shelf in their office.
We prefer to act carefully and try to work together with the slum committee, because if we only take one wrong step we shall immediately be chased away from their community, where our girls are really doing a good work. We intend to enrol a deaf and mute girl at a special school, but this school seems to be caring more for deaf children from rich families and the director did not seem particularly enthusiastic about the idea of taking little deaf Meena from the slums into their fold…But we won't give up…
A serious incident shook all of all of us at "Children's World". Krishna, who has been living with us for 15 years, has made Swikriti pregnant, a girl from a rich family. In their despair both of them kept silent for 5 months, until the girl one fine day saw no other way than to confess her state to her parents. Her father, a colonel in the Nepalese army, has beaten her up very badly and kicked out of the house. She doesn't want to have anything to do with Krishna anymore, since he abandoned her in this incredibly difficult situation. Of course we took her in and sent him away. Her parents are telling relatives, friends and neighbours, she had gone for studies in India. The truth is however, that she is hiding in the children's house and never goes out even. She is due for delivery in March. First she planned to give the baby away for adoption, but since she has seen it during the ultrasound examination, she is not so sure about it anymore and does not know what to do. One thing is for sure: In Nepal she cannot live as a single mother, for society would turn her down and she would be treated like a prostitute. Furthermore she would never get a job. Indeed a difficult situation both for her and for us!
Ashok, a 12 year old orphan boy from the slums, broke his elbow while he was attending school. As he used to live from the food leftovers of different huts and to sleep each night at different places, he has come to live with us in the children's house. Raj Kumar and Swikriti are giving him lessons, so that he will be able to attend government school as from March.
We gave up our plan of buying a house. The political situation is too unstable. For even if such a house would earn us some profit after 10 years, we prefer to go on a rental basis. To this end we are urgently looking for an earthquake proof house, though it will be more expensive. We are happy of being able to report that the seeds we sowed 15 years ago, finally are bearing fruit now. The senior ones, who are managing "Children's World" today, are very motivated and well capable of assuming responsibility. Unlike the adults working for the project up to now, they are free from superstition and from thinking in the patterns of the traditional caste system. Instead they show a lot of sympathy and helpfulness in supporting the poor and discriminated people of their country. Their energy and enthusiasm makes our stay in Kathmandu a real joy and because they are Nepalese themselves, our work in Nepal is assuming quite different dimensions.
We express our heartfelt thanks to all of you, who are supporting us so faithfully, because it is you, who are making possible so many positive things in Kathmandu. You will receive the receipts for your donations, which by December have accumulated as separate amounts in our organization's bank account, in January.
The big and small children at "Children's World" as well the members of the Children's Aid to Nepal are wishing all of you a merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year 2004!
Many kind regards