In December the evening temperatures in Katmandu valley suddenly fall from 20 to zero degrees centigrade. Even at sunset, most people struggle against the cold by huddling together, they eat the little rice with a thin lentil soup, that their parents have earned during the day, and when the day was successful, a few vegetables.
The population has long become accustomed to the Electricity shortages, and even though the whole of Katmandu Valley at the moment suffers from 14 hours a day without electricity, most can not afford to pay the bill anyway. Factories and small businesses must therefore close and there are even more unemployed. The newspapers report that the waters of the Himalayas were frozen glaciers this year, but the new government knows that there are quite different reasons for the electricity shortages as well as the lack of clean water. The hope that was created 5 months ago following after the appointment of the ex-rebel Maoist leader Prachanda as Prime Minister, has very quickly dissipated. The Maoists do not have a majority in Parliament and therefore there can be no real politics.
Due to inflation, prices in Nepal have increased by 30% within a week. Alcohol may now only be bought with a permit and of course only in expensive shops.
This is a truly "brilliant" law against alcoholism, seeing that the poor do not visit those shops anyway and brew their own rice liquor, even though it is banned! In our slum liquor is openly illegally produced. Sija and her team still go about their work in a very capable way. Sometimes she even manages to persuade the women not to drink anymore. A donor had offered to pay for the withdrawal treatment of a women, but Sila said that she was a hopeless case and that the money would only be wasted.
The Maoist party is divided, after twelve years of bitter fighting in the jungles of the country their Leaders now seem to be enjoying the luxury of their new status, while the Opposition is doing everything to prevent any sensible reforms. They drive in expensive cars and because their names have now been removed from the international Terrorist list, they travel around the world at every opportunity.
The energetic cooperation with the Maoists', which until a few months ago was very active in the settlement has stopped. The women, who were particularly effective were instructed from an higher authority, to return to their cooking pots. Now they just sit around again and have to be motivated once again. Most of the Project Workers, especially the assistants come from the slum. In the team, which is supported by us, this does not occur, and the work goes on uninterrupted. The children receive medical care, food, water and get a school education. So that they can survive the winter without catching a cold or getting a lung infection we have again supplied all the kids with anoraks. Many of them still had them from last December, but they were mostly in a wretched condition, since they had been worn day and night. In addition, the quality of Chinese products that are sold in Nepal, are especially unsatisfactory.
Sija is the most important support person for all the mothers and helps everywhere where she can. Through the medical care, which she daily administers, many diseases and otherwise necessary hospital visits can be avoided. Amir lives in a neighboring slum. Two months ago he fell from the roof. Since his parents don't have any money he was not taken to hospital. A nasty infection beset the multiple fracture of his arm, and when the mother finally went to Sija with him he had to be twice operated on and had to spend 6 weeks in the hospital so that he could recover from the infection: that he still alive is due to Sila. A lot of people in Nepal die because they don't have the money to go to the doctors in time and leave their lives simply to fate.
Sijas energy is contagious. and our slum remains " the best" in the whole of Kathmandu! Drinking water, which is paid for and brought by us to the middle of the settlement is distributed daily. The elderly do not need to be called by Sija when the vitamin-and mineral-rich milk porridge is distributed to the children. Suddenly they are all there and waiting patiently with their bowls to receive their ration. There are but a few elderly, and one wonders how they still cling on to life with their eating habits.
Sometimes there is even meat and vegetables, and in those days one might think that a great festival is taking place in the slum. It is not easy for us "Westerners", to deal with this level of poverty, and to accept it as normal like the Nepalese do. There is the constant struggle against the dust, lice, fleas and other vermin. You have to protect yourself against the rats must by keeping nothing edible in the room and by closing the door punctually before dark.Even in "Children 's World ", which is just as clean as our homes in Germany, it is not uncommon to hear the girls screaming because a rat has just run across their Bedspread at night. Because you can be sure that one or the other of them has a few biscuits hidden somewhere! The 25 children and adolescents, who live there ,are coming along well in the school and their studies well advanced. The older ones often go in the slum, when they have holidays, and make special activities with the children.
Although most of our Nepalese friends not know exactly what Christmas means, they know very well that it is for us the biggest celebration of the year. The many American Christian communities of differing denominations also ensure that an increasing number of Nepalese in the Katmandu Valley know what a church is. Many become Christians reject alcohol and their frivolous lifestyle because they believe that it is is Jesus' work in the slum, a vast majority of people have let themselves already be converted to Christianity. Nobody misses the weekly worship service. But it doesn't prevent them from following and celebrating their Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions in a big way.
The children from the slums and from "Children's World" wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for your assistance in improving their living conditions. Also we would like to express to you our best wishes. Unfortunately sometimes these good wishes are not always fulfilled: This year, we have regrettably had 2 cases of grief within a single family: first our faithful benefactor Eike Schmidt, and a few months later, her daughter Sabine passed away. Both had expressed the wish that at their funeral services, a donation in remembrance of them should be given to help the children of Nepal instead of flowers and wreaths. We would like to express our warmest thanks to them, their relatives and friends very.
There were happy events too, were supporters were fortunately enough to celebrate different events and where donations were generously given to our project.
Thank you all for your loyal and generous support!
Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year for 2009!