If you want to switch off from war and threats of nuclear apocalypse, you only need to fly to Nepal, because hardly anyone there knows what is currently happening in the world. The press mostly reports only on domestic politics, and most people do not read newspapers anyway. Only one public life event has awakened people there: the rapid, highly mediatized rise of Balandra Shah, a non-party rapper who was elected mayor of Kathmandu in May and soon began to take action in the capital.
Going abroad, however, remains the main desire of all Nepalese: The poorest are working for dog wages in the Gulf states. Eighty percent of the 800,000 young people who graduate from Nepalese schools and universities each year leave the country: the children of wealthy parents move to study in Australia or the United States, and always find a way to stay. The others are exploited by agencies that take them to Japan or Korea for a lot of money: In order to earn about 2500 € per month there, they give up the qualifications they acquired in Nepal through a lot of effort and do hard field work locally.
Due to worldwide inflation, this money later turns out to be too little to do anything sensible with when they return home. Recently, dubious agencies offer a new route to get to Europe. For €3000, young people are flown to Turkey after being promised to be taken overland from Turkish soil to Greece. The drama is that many of them disappear after landing in Turkey or are found dead in the forests between the two countries. Although the risks of such a route are now well known, many people do not hesitate to take them! Most young people who do not manage to get out of Nepal are unemployed.
Inflation and price increases not only make the lives of the Nepalese more difficult, but also the work of Kinderhilfe Nepal. Our donors remain loyal to us, but with a monthly amount of about 5000 €, which has given us so many opportunities since the beginning of our project 33 years ago, we do not get far today.
During the last visit to Kathmandu, priorities had to be set and decisions had to be made: It was clear to us that we had to give up our activity in the slum where we had achieved the most: it was not easy to explain to our co-workers in the Banshighat slum that for financial reasons we had to withdraw our help from their community in order to assist other much poorer people.
In our 15 years of presence in Banshighat, the residents have understood the importance of hygiene and provide a tidy environment and clean children. Moreover, they now pay for their own drinking water, which is supplied regularly. We explained to our staff that it would now be possible for them to reorganize the kindergarten and that they could certainly continue to run it themselves for a small amount of money from the parents. Of course, they were not enthusiastic about taking over the responsibility themselves, and are convinced that parents will never spend money on a kindergarten place. But they would try, they said. It is not easy for us to end our activity in Banshighat, because we have worked very hard for the children there and are attached to the people of the slum. They are sad to give up their comfortable life at the end of December, but it is not a tragedy for them, because as Nepalese they adapt to every new situation better than we do.
There is good news from "our" Madhesis, who prefer to be called "Maute" and whom we have been taking care of for years. Finally they could move away from the garbage dump of Kathmandu where they lived. They now live in a clean place called Ghattaqhar. where we have had tin rooms, a well, a shower area and toilets built. It is a huge relief for them to know that they can live here in safety for 5 years without the risk of being chased away. Especially the children often think they are dreaming: now they appear clean and neat at school and are no longer teased by the other students. In the center of the settlement, we have set up a classroom with the tables and benches from Banshighat.
The children consider this room the most precious thing they have ever had and behave there as if they were in a temple! Slowly we are trying to motivate the women to find other sources of income than begging. One of them, Rashmi, went to apprentice with a seamstress for a few months, and we have now bought a sewing machine for all of them. Rashmi is teaching the other women to sew, while some of them are thinking of selling fried Nepali snacks on the street. The road to self-employment is a long one, but a new line of thinking is at least in place now....
The pressure of increasingly difficult living conditions and the hope for a better life bring more and more illiterate Madhesis, who are landless and stateless just like our Maute people, to Kathmandu. Fifteen families have set up their plastic tents in the Koteshwor neighborhood and live there without toilets or water. We have decided to literate 30 of their children in order to enroll them in school in 6 months. One of our loyal donors has already sent us the 12,000 euros needed to send them to school.
Greetings from my heart