few foreigners who visited Kathmandu six weeks after the earthquake
were very surprised and asked themselves whether an earthquake had really
taken place here. On television they had ONLY shown destruction and
one could have believed that half of the capital city had been destroyed.
Of course most of the temples and some buildings had been damaged or
even broken down, but only in the old town or on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
Under the ca. 10,000 people who died because of the catastrophe, "only"
1,500 people died in the capital city, but as soon as one leaves the
town then one realizes the scale of the damage for the farmers who were
already in need anyway.
Most of the dwellings which were made of clay and stones have been completely
demolished. Tourism is the country's main source of income. The one-sided
television reports at the time of the earthquake are responsible for
the many people who live from tourism no longer having any income because
nobody dares to travel to Nepal any more. The truth is that "only"
three of the 35 trekking routes in the Himalayas are no longer usable,
and "only" 11 of the 75 districts were affected by the catastrophe.
However slave traders profit from the desperate situation of people
wandering about, lost children and women, in order to sell them abroad.
The rainy season also brought further disasters: the monsoon softens
the earth which is already shaken up by the earthquake and causes landslides
which swallow up whole villages.
The Nepalese government, which was incompetent of immediately helping
its countrymen, did everything possible to make the operation of international
helpers more difficult: Aid teams had to wait for permission for several
days in order to reach the regions which were hardest hit. The media
began to spread xenophobic sentiments, in which they spread negative
news about relief operations: That under the 6,500 tons of rice, which
the world nourishment program of the United Nations distributed to the
victims of the earthquake, 102 sacks were rotten and uneddable, made
headlines in the papers for weeks. Four weeks after the disaster the
government forbid the transfer of money from foreigners to private accounts
of Nepalese friends. They wanted to be able to manage and control the
foreign currency themselves. Even we were harshly told three times by
men from different political channels that we should give the government
our money and fly home! The resentment against the white employees of
the large aid organizations who work in Nepal and receive very high
wages for Nepalese circumstances is increasing constantly because the
educated Nepalese think that THEY should have these jobs and not foreigners.
Earlier only the Indian people were discriminated because they control
a large part of the trade in Nepal. Now, we the white people are no
longer welcomed by many of the wealthy people. On the other hand the
needy remain well disposed towards us because they are exceptionally
thankful to receive any help at all from anybody.
Nothing has happened to these people, who we have been supporting in
the slums for a long time, since they only live under plastic awnings.
However, during the two months after the catastrophe we had to provide
them with rice, lentils and beans because suddenly they could no longer
earn the money for the daily food for the family on building sites or
as household helps. Now the normal daily life has begun again in Kathmandu
and our work in the slums of Banshigat and Thapathali continues just
like before the earthquake. The Maute nomads who were about to spend
the summer in Nepal preferred to go to India this year.
Our call for donations after the catastrophe brought the organization
80,000 € and thanks to your generosity we were able to protect
the 80 homeless families from the village of Mudhku with sturdy provisional
dwellings out of bamboo and tarpaulin just in time before the heavy
monsoon. This work was successfully organized and supervised by Muna's
brother within six weeks and cost us 34,000 €. The school in Mudhku
which cares for 500 children from the whole region was also destroyed.
Over 5000 schools in the country were completely destroyed by the earthquake.
So that the children could continue their lessons we have built a school
out of thick galvanized corrugated iron sheets which cost 16,000 €.
The facility will provide good service for longer than 10 years until
the government will perhaps at some time concern themselves with the
question of how to use the 4.4 billion dollars which have been donated
by the international community sensibly for rebuilding Nepal. Now we
would like to help all these people who have lost everything to get
permanent earthquake safe housing and we are in contact with a Nepalese
Our plan seems at the moment not to be very realistic because the building
materials in Nepal are almost as expensive as in Germany. In order to
build a simple but safe house which is in keeping with the Nepalese
tradition we would need at least 6000 €. That means 480,000 €
for the 80 houses. It is a lot of money
. At the moment we have
the money for 10 houses and as soon as possible we will start building
for the 10 poorest families until we find more money for the others.
The victims of the earthquake do not expect anything from their government
and also have no expectations of us. They are only thankful to be able
to live in the dry and they do not ask themselves how things could continue
for them. Their only worry is to survive from one day to the next. It
is fact that the 4.4 billion dollars in aid should with priority be
used to rebuild the infrastructure of the country and the old temples.
The countries providing aid have seriously indicated that these enormous
amounts should be used in a transparent way so that this financial support
does not fail due to the corrupt customs of the officials. And despite
everything the poor do not expect anything because they know through
experience that aid money disappears somewhere on the way before it
reaches those who need it the most. This is also the reason why aid
organizations prefer to support them most possibly directly and on the
spot. In order to keep a clear view over our commitment we would like
to concentrate on our slums and the village of Mudhku. The village consists
of small groups of houses which stretch out over many kilometers in
the mountains. Since the quake shaked the layers of earth so strongly
all the sources of water in Mudhku have also run dry but the villagers
do not complain since they have since birth been used to walking many
kilometers to fetch water they say.
Mudhku consists of about 200 families. Half of them belong to the highest
recognized cast in Hinduism, the Brahmins, the other half belong to
the lowest cast the "untouchables" who work as tailors, but
are never allowed to enter the house of a Brahmins. Brahmins would never
use the plate or glass of an untouchable. The difference between the
two casts has been made clear by the earthquake: the better built houses
of the Brahmins are still standing whilst the untouchables have lost
everything. Santosh and Muna are also "untouchable", and when
Muna came to us in Kathmandu twenty years ago we had to change her name
to hide her origin. At that time untouchables in Kathmandu were solely
responsible for cleaning toilets; a job which only they were allowed
to do. Today they are no longer allowed to be discriminated by law.
However the division of casts in society remains even more alive than
Many thanks to all of you for your valuable support! We will send you
your donation receipts in December. And if you should have any ideas
how we could accomplish rebuilding Mudhku please contact us!