A stay in Nepal never is boring, this spring, however, it turned out to be especially eventful. To ride directly from the airport to the hospital, and since the laconic and overworked nurses were not in the position of handling the case, to do the job of a midwife - that such a thing might happen at all is just unimaginable. After long hours of labour pains, pressing and counterpressing the legs of poor Swikriti, the pregnant girl we had given shelter, the head of the baby was emerging by millimetres. The hospital staff only intervened to cut the umbilical cord and to remove the placenta. Nelson Iman Thapa was born on 19th March on a stretcher in the hospital-corridor, overcrowded by screaming women. He was wrapped in an old, dirty rag und put on our arms. His mother stayed in Children's Home for another fortnight, before her parents accepted her again at home, just as if she had returned from her studies in India. They felt guilty, because they had cast her out for the time of her pregnancy. Her father, an officer of the Nepalese Army, promised to send her to England, for after having given birth to an illegitimate child she can never find a husband in Nepal.
Nelson (who was given this name, that he might adopt a little bit of Mandela's courage) Iman (Nepalese for honesty) Thapa (second name of his mother) meanwhile has become like a lucky mascot for the children's home and is waiting to be adopted by a French family. The Nepalese side seems to make this procedure quite complicated, because - just as anywhere else - adoption has become a kind of a business in which we refuse to get involved. The officials of the governmental Orphan Shelter are quite aware that, if the adoption does not run smoothly, we as an organisation can claim to keep Nelson in Nepal and educate him ourselves.
In Nepal babies are constantly being born and people are dying just in the same way. The country's chaotic situation is getting worse and worse. Almost every week there are three days of general strike, sometimes called out by the Maoists, sometimes by the Union of All Parties, who are trying to force the king to return to democracy. Hundreds of people have been hurt during the demonstrations that took place within the last weeks, for the police not only are using tear gas against the protesters, but also batons with nails on them. Frequently there are curfews and in certain parts of Kathmandu not more than five persons are allowed to assemble, otherwise the security forces will fire at them. The king doesn't really care about the situation of his country and, with the assistance of Mr Bush, is fighting against the Maoists, who meanwhile are resorting to the same cruel torture methods as the military and the police. Many Nepalese are hoping for the UN to intervene, but up till now the only thing Kofi Annan did, was to urge both sides to negotiate. There are some American military personnel here, who are training their Nepalese colleagues, because they don't know how to handle the sophisticated American weaponry, whilst the US-ambassador in Nepal doesn't hesitate to openly visit the Nepalese Army and to interfere in the domestic policy of the country.
For the past eight years this conflict cost 10.000 people their lives and not a single day passes in Kathmandu that even civilians are shot at or bombs are exploding. "Our" soldier Baghat now is on duty against the rebels in western Nepal and when once in a while he calls us up, his voice sounds very meek, for he is not allowed to talk about his activity. The capital is lacking almost everything, as the Maoists are blocking the roads into the city quite frequently. For emergency we stored dried food like rice, lentils and soy beans and so on, sufficient for four month to feed the children. We are glad that we fixed the prices for the slum sewage project with the involved enterprises, because otherwise the original amount of 6.000 Euro, we had set aside, would have doubled by now. Especially cement is very slow to reach Kathmandu. Nevertheless, the work is progressing. The men of the slums are helping wherever they can, for in Nepal there are no cranes available and so everything has to be done by manpower. The inhabitants of the slums are very grateful, that soon they will not have to live by the side of a brook filled with excrements and sewage; we had explained them, that their own and their children's health would benefit a great deal from the project. The city administration of Kathmandu had stopped their own sewage-project just opposite the slums and refused to continue further, for the slum-people are unwanted elements for them and considered criminals. Sija is now supervising this large project; she is also the director of our school, which is carrying on its work successfully. Deepak and Dilip, who are in charge of procuring construction materials, assist her. We have been very lucky to get the help of Mr Mitthuram, the government official responsible for waste and sewage in this part of the city. He could not prevail upon the city-administration to build this sewer, but the commitment our young people show, impressed him very much and so he gave them important advice and even privately worked for the improvement of the living conditions in the slums. This is very rare in Nepal, for most officials prefer to enjoy their privileges and ignore the poor completely.
Another important news is this: We have moved to another house. Though we could not find the earthquake-proof dream house - only three houses in the whole of Kathmandu are built according to the standards. So we had to settle with an interim solution. The special architect we had consulted told us we would not find a better house. He said, he hoped that the roof and the false ceilings would withstand the foretold major earthquake and perhaps "only" the walls might cave in.
Our "big ones" helped a lot when we were moving and arranging things in the new house, but soon we got aware that the water available wasn't sufficient at all. So we had three wells sunk, from which water is directed to our water tanks via pumps and pipes. A fourth well was equipped with a hand-pump, for almost every day - especially now in the dry season - electricity fails for several hours. Currently the water is being analysed, for all the rivers of the city carry excrements and sewage and thus contaminate the ground water. Anyhow, at Children's World only water that has been cleansed by an electrical device is allowed for drinking water.
The new house with its huge playing-ground and nice garden is quite comfortable and one feels well there. This is very important for the existence of our Raj Kumar, who is suffering from muscular dystrophy. Unlike him Sharmila, 17, is not entirely paralysed. We took her in, because her landlord abused her. Due to polio, her feet are severely malformed and she is unable to stand or walk without crutches. Our devoted benefactor from Nuremberg has offered to pay for the complicated operation that will enable her to walk without crutches. The chances for success are 90%. Bikram is finishing his training in hotel-management and from 1st October will work for one year as a voluntary trainee in two French four-star hotels. Also the smaller children are doing well at school. Deepak, who is assisted by Sija, Bikram, Pema and Dilip, is leading the entire project much better than all of his predecessors. The daily e-mail-communication with Europe works fine and all problems are being solved smoothly. We are really glad that our "big ones" slowly reach the stage where they will be able to take things in their own hands and we are full of hopes for the future. Also the general atmosphere among the inmates has never been as good as now.
Since beginning of this year unfortunately we lost three of our long time donors by death. It was their wish just as that of their family members that instead of bringing flowers to the funeral those who attended might donate some money for Children's Aid Nepal. We will always remember Mrs Althild Liner, who had visited the children's home together with her husband, Dr Josef Samson and Mr Lutz Münzfeld. We and everybody else at Children's World wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved families and to thank all of their friends for their donations. Also we would like to express our special thanks to all of our other dedicated donors. By now our grown-up children have become able to really appreciate your help.
Our next letter is due in the late summer months. Until then we send you all our heartfelt greetings.
Many good wishes