Nepal's decades-long unresolved border disputes with India in the south and China in the north continue to flare up. This year, the Nepalese government printed the »legally binding« map of the small Himalayan state, which outraged the two big neighbors. The fact is, however, that Nepal is literally wedged between China and India and, with its 30 million Nepalese, cannot hold its own against India or China, each of which has 1.4 billion inhabitants. Nepal's rulers are aware of this and do their best during official visits to make themselves look good to both giant neighbors. The mayor of Kathmandu, Balendra Shah, is one of the loudest defenders of his country's new "official« map and did not hesitate to cancel an invitation to Beijing in the autumn in protest. »Baien«, as he is now known, is being idolized by more and more supporters, especially younger ones, and he is already being talked about as the next Prime Minister of Nepal.
Last May, the New York Times devoted a whole page to him and declared him one of the 100 most influential people in the world! However, he remains unpopular with the poorest people in the slums of Kathmandu. The Supreme Court agreed with his decision to evict all the slums in the capital, but only if replacement housing is available for all those in need, which is not expected any time soon.
As a result, the residents of the Thapathali slum keep calm and pretend that their housing problem has been solved. Like more and more poor people, they try to defy the mayor's ban and resume small businesses on the pavements of Kathmandu, knowing full well that they will have to flee as soon as the police turn up. It is impossible for these people to earn the money they need for their daily food in any other way. Some slum dwellers had family members who were able to send money from Israel. Most of them worked in the fields of the kibbutz near the Gaza Strip until 7 October. Ten of them were gruesomely murdered in the massacre, seven were wounded and around seven teen are either being held hostage by Hamas or are missing. Two Hundred of them were able to escape and fly back home on October, 13
The government declared in September that the country would only have enough grain for three months in the event of a disaster. Most of the food is imported: Millions of small farmers have sold their land to go abroad - in the hope of a better life. Now the land that should be producing food is in the hands of large landowners who prefer to rent out their land to small factories for a lot of money. Laws that could have prevented this have long been on the agenda of various governments, but have never been enforced.
Therefore, the main concern of the people of Thapathali remains the fear of starvation. Our employee Muna goes from hut to hut every morning and looks after the sick children. We have a big problem with the adults who beg us to give them money for an MRI or expensive operations for themselves. It is unpleasant to refuse this help and to keep explaining to sick people that we are an organisation whose aim is only to care for children. We help as much as we can and have lorries bring drinking water three times a week for the 1,500 people in the settlement.
Now there is a lack of money for the families: The government has long known that poverty causes malnutrition among Nepalese women and children and that this effect on their health is one of the country's biggest problems, but all the annually planned programs against acute malnutrition are never implemented because the financial situation does not allow it and the funds for such projects are simply cut from the budget.
Kinderhilfe Nepal has long recognized this problem and not only the 300 children we look after in Kathmandu receive our vitamin and mineral-enriched milk porridge every day, but also all pregnant women and the few elderly people in the slums. In September, the government declared that the country would only have three months' supply of grain in the event of a disaster. Most of the food is imported: Millions of small farmers have sold their land to go abroad -in the hope of a better life. Now the land that should be producing food is in the hands of large landowners who prefer to rent out their land to small factories for a lot of money. Laws that could have prevented this have long been on the agenda of various governments, but have never been enforced.
Therefore, the main concern of the people of Thapathali remains the fear of starvation. Our employee Muna goes from hut to hut every morning and looks after the sick children. We have a big problem with the adults who beg us to give them money for an MRI scan or expensive operations for themselves. It is unpleasant to refuse this help and to keep explaining to sick people that we are an organization whose aim is only to care for children. We help as much as we can and have drinking water delivered by lorry three times a week for the 1,500 people in the settlement
Our »Maute« clan, the Madhesis, who now live in two different settlements of tin huts, also have a daily struggle for food. We regularly supply them with drinking water, and the children fortunately get our milk porridge every day, but the parents' biggest grief every morning is not knowing whether their family will get anything nutritious into their stomachs that day. The men endeavor to find customers for their home-brewed medicines and also carry out small operations on the street, such as ear cleaning or the removal of infected abscesses caused by sinusitis. On "productive" days, the families can afford chicken feet or, preferably, chicken intestine: it is a cheap and delicious dish, they say.
The children are making progress at school and their homework is supervised daily by our employee Sushma.
A small drama took place in September: One of the older girls, Rasni, was possessed by an »evil spirit«, Muna told us excitedly on the phone. We asked her to take the thirteen-year-old to a psychiatrist. The doctor explained that the problem would solve itself and prescribed Valium, but to no avail. Our people thought it was really an evil spirit that wanted to bring misfortune on the whole family. Everyone then went to a distant temple to seek salvation from the goddess Kali. »Kali« the black one", is considered by Hindus to be the goddess who fulfils wishes in return for animal sacrifices. In the Kali temple, Rasni's aunt confessed that two months ago she had promised the goddess a goat if she could save the life of her sick baby. The baby got well, but the goddess got angry because she did not get a goat and chose her niece Rasni to punish the whole family. The aunt was then forced to buy and sacrifice a goat for Kali and the girl got well immediately. Not only our Madhesi people are firmly convinced that Rasni could only be healed by the goddess in this case, but also our two co-workers Muna and Sushma: both are of the firm opinion that we, »Westerners«, would not be able to understand such things, but that they are a Mayty in Nepal.
Thanks to our milk porridge, our »Maute« children are very healthy. In contrast, the children of their distant relatives, who live under fabric tents and have led a nomadic life up to now, are malnourished and ill. Due to the constant price increases for public transport, these people can no longer lead their nomadic existence and have decided to stay in Kathmandu. The women endeavor to earn money by weaving carpets from old saris or by begging at Kathmandu's numerous religious festivals. The men occasionally work on building sites when possible. These people are so terribly poor that we have decided to provide their children with our milk porridge every day. As almost all the women were suffering from infections, we sent a gynecologist to the mothers in the three Madhesi settlements to examine and educate them all. Most of them had never been to a gynecologist before and many were very scared. Our »Maute« women, whose children we have been looking after for years, now go to the hospital when their babies are born. However, the other Madhesi women still give birth to their babies in their tents without medical assistance. If the baby dies in the process, it is simply God's will.
We thank you very much for your loyal support of Kinderhilfe Nepal despite the difficult and worrying times we are currently living in. Nevertheless, we wish you a Merry Christmas.
Please also read the personal letter from blind Goma, who grew up in our former orphanage in Kathmandu and now lives a good life in India with her husband and son.