Kinderhilfe Nepal e.V.Charity Organization for Nepalese Slum Children

Newsletter December, 2015

Dear Friends,

Six months after the big earthquake every feeling of solidarity of the Nepalese for the victims of the catastrophe has completely disappeared. Since three months everything revolves around the problem with the Indians and the Madhesis: The Madhesis live in the TERAI, the southern plateau of Nepal (see map). Whether they are officially registered as Nepalese or not all of them are of Indian culture and have always been discriminated or ignored by the governors of Kathmandu.

After the end of the monarchy in 2008 they began to demand their rights more resolutely. On the 20th of September 2015 after years of unnecessary discussions a nepalese constitution was finally established. However, since they still did not take into consideration the needs of the Madhesis, these blocked all roads which connect Nepal with India, and since then they have hindered the countries supplies of life important goods: there is no longer petrol, so no means of transport, no gas and no basic food supplies.

Today, almost three months after the beginning of these blockades the factories in Nepal are closed due to a lack of spare parts. Taxi drivers have to wait in a queue for four days and nights if a few tank lorries try to make their way across the southern border, or if petrol and diesel from China can get through on the difficult roads of the Himalayas to Kathmandu.

Most shops and restaurants are closed. The nepalese media support their government by promoting the anti India feeling which was always present. The new constitution forebids the Indians who live in Nepal to acquire the nepalese citizenship by marrying a nepalese man or woman. On the other hand from now on a nepalese citizen can only get a job as a civil servant if both his parents were born in Nepal: These are exactly the issues which the Indian government want to have changed.

It should be made possible for people who are of Indian origin (Indians and Madhesis) to work in higher positions so that it is easier for India to pull political strings in Kathmandu from Delhi. And the fact that the nepalese government just at present is in the hands of a coalition of communists and maoists also does not please the right wing conservative indian president Narendra Modi. The big competitor, China in the north, tries to support Nepal with help which of course India extremely dislikes. To be truthful, Nepal enclosed by two such powerful neighbours as China and India, doesn't have much to say. In 1980, Nepal and India signed a contract in which Nepal committed to provide India, which frequently struggles with droughts, with water from the Himalaya region for 100 years.

However, Nepal's threat to not fulfill this commitment did not impress India at all. Furthermore, the highly religious Mr. Modi has not made a secret about his efforts to make Nepal a Hindu state, despite the fact that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians have lived together in the country for centuries. Even though India does not have the right to get involved in the internal business of their neighbouring country officially, it still does this by secretly supporting the Madhesis in the south of Nepal, by joining them in blocking their country efficiently.

Nepal was already weakened by the large earthquake that struck in April. Following this, it continues to become more fragile as no one is seriously considering the restauration of the national infrastructure or the residential areas in the regions that were affected particularly severely. UN-Organisations have threatened the nepalese government, that if the reconstruction of the country does not begin immediately, the greatest portion oft he USD 4.4 billion that were promised as a result of the natural catastrophe, will be given to other nations in need of funding. The victims of the earthquake have been left largely without any support and have been rebuilding their homes with the same stones that fell on their heads in April. Instead of using cement, they are using clay, making future catastrophes inevitable.

During all of this chaos, the work of "Kinderhilfe Nepal" continues, even though even that is limited and jeopardized by the current political situation. Due to the great generosity of one of our donors, we have not only been able to build 10, but 20 earthquake-proof houses in the village of MUDHKU. It was a true nightmare to get the necessary planning and building permissions approved by the responsible government agencies, as these were focused on the Madhesis-India crisis at the time.

Nevertheless, we eventually received the necessary administrative license, with the help of a young lawyer. A friend of ours, a nepalese architect did the planning for twenty houses in Mudhku for free, and the contract with three civil engineers was signed in October. But the political situation has not changed, and even today, three months after contracting, it is still not possible to get the necessary building materials.

After an internet video conference both sides decided to wait until the end of the blockade of Nepal before starting the construction work. The civil engineers are not satisfied with that, but it is too risky for the "Kinderhilfe Nepal" to commence a project that perhaps cannot be completed, especially since nepalese construction companies are not insured, and we would be the loosers in the end.

Due to the difficult situation in the country the Maute nomads did not appear again this year. As in the slums of Thapathali and Banshigat, we have provided the children in Mudku with warm winter jackets, which luckily we had already ordered in August. A pediatrician examined all the children, and the necessary medicine was distributed.

In Banshigat, NEER has now replaced Sushma and teaches the children, who will start school in six months time. Because Sija has to write her Master thesis in psychology she can no longer work with us. Muna still visits the slums and cares for the welfare of the children in both health centers. Moreover she drives to Mudhku twice a week to look after the earthquake victims in the village. Sushma supervises the whole project, helps Muna and Neer when necessary, and looks after the accounting of the project with high accuracy. She is also in constant contact with the civil engineers to avoid the construction work being forgotten.

We can be happy that the wholesalers who sell children's nutrition, food and drinking water to us now for years continue to support us during the blockade and help us to provide the children in the slums with food.

Usually, petrol, gas and drinking water are distributed to the servants and drivers of "important" people with high priority but nobody cares for hundreds of thousands who have to survive under plastic tarpaulins during the 4 month long winter. The nepalese people are highly adaptable people and in general, the poor do not complain. Even "our" victims of the earthquake thank you all for the secure plastic buildings which we built for them in June. They go to bed early and only get up when the sun has warmed their tent, and wait for better times coming. Perhaps we, the Europeans, can learn something from them …..

We as well thank you for your valuable support for our humanitarian work and wish you a merry

Christmas and health and happiness in the New Year.

Elisabeth Montet