Kinderhilfe Nepal e.V. / Childrens´s World
- Newsletter August / September 2020 -

Dear friends,

Although the number of Nepalese infected with Covid-19 is rising dramatically after four months of curfew, the government could do nothing but lift the four-nation lockdown. Especially in Kathmandu, the virus is currently spreading fastest, and the entire city is now to be isolated. About 30,000 sick and only 107 dead are said to be in the country. Everyone knows that these figures do not correspond to reality, and most are so afraid of the disease that they refuse to go to the overcrowded hospitals when symptoms appear also when they visit the hospital they are now sent home anyway. The staff is overworked and untrained, and there is a lack of ventilators and medication. Some people go so far as to commit suicide after they learn that they are infected.

The incompetent head of government OLI appeared on television to reassure the people by saying that all you needed was to drink hot water, eat ginger and turmeric to protect yourself from the disease. It is now known that the virus is being introduced into the country by hundreds of thousands of unemployed Nepalese who used to work in India. Although the border posts between the two countries are now closed, the border is very long and easily permeable. The authorities are trying to keep these people in quarantine, but many are running away in fear, and nobody cares, because no doctors refuse to take care of them anyway: The fugitives bring the disease to their village of origin deep north into the Himalayan region, where they are then rejected and often mercilessly chased away by their villagers.

Many thousands of Nepalese have been unemployed for 4 months in the Gulf States and are being held in quarantine there under terrible conditions. They are desperate to get home, but the government is struggling to organize charter flights. But it is these workers who have brought the country 28% of its foreign exchange earnings in the last 15 years and a significant development because they sent their money home!

The biggest problem in these difficult times is the lack of food. About 50% of the inhabitants of Kathmandu, who as day laborers have only what they earn during the day to eat, went to their native village at the beginning of the curfew in order not to starve. The majority of the others who stayed cannot pay for the food, which is overpriced due to the crisis.

The population of the slums is of course severely affected. Our toll people have it worst in their tent camp: By their darker skin, you can see that they come from the Indian-Nepalese border, and they are suspected by everyone to be infected by the virus. They are under special surveillance by the police and get no food from anyone. Therefore they have been completely dependent on Nepal's children's aid for five months now. Muna and Sushma drive with old bicycles to our three slum settlements and make sure that the toll clan does not starve: Rice, lentils, dried beans and soybeans, oil, spices, sugar, and soap are necessary for them to survive.
Here, as in the other slums, our milk porridge enriched with vitamins and minerals is distributed to the children every day. This year the monsoon is catastrophic, destroying roads and bridges and causing landslides all over the country, tearing down entire houses. Another layer of tarpaulin had to be stretched over the tents of the toll families so that they can live relatively dry again and no longer get sick.

About 1500 people of the slum of Thapathali are a little better off because they get rice and lentils from the government every now and then. The Korean Christian sect, which usually does missionary work here, also sends money from Seoul sometimes, but at the end of June, there was suddenly no food and no money left in this slum. Fortunately, LYDIA SCHMIDT from "Kinderhaus Kathmandu" came to our aid and provided 2000 Euro to provide the people of Thapathali with food for 10 days.

Of course, the children get their milk porridge every day and we deliver drinking water to the settlement as usual. Many sick people hide in the plastic huts for fear of being tested. 20 of them are infected with tuberculosis, and our helpers try to get the appropriate medication from the health authorities.

In the slum of Banshigat, the kindergarten had to be closed, but the children come every day to eat their porridge. Thanks to the efforts of the people in charge, who also work with us, the inhabitants get more regular food from the government, but almost all of them have become unemployed due to the crisis. Many women try with little success to sell single cigarettes and small items on the street during the permitted store opening hours.

Apart from our toll people, who always live peacefully, all slums of Kathmandu have one thing in common at the moment: Domestic violence against women and children has increased enormously. It got so bad that the UN and several foreign embassies have called on the Nepalese government to take action against this violence and to offer protection to the victims. The women also complain to Muna and Sushma that their men, because they have nothing to do, constantly force them to have sex: There is now an unusually large number of pregnant women in all the boiling lungs who are not at all happy about their condition. Despite the family planning programs that we regularly organize, the women do not protect themselves properly and forget about the pill, while the men do not want to hear about condoms.
The people of Mudhku near Kathmandu, where we built twenty earthquake-proof houses after the catastrophe of 2015, are better off due to their proximity to the capital than the inhabitants of distant villages in the Himalayas, who were completely isolated for 4 months without any means of transport. Their greatest advantage is the fields on which they can live to some extent. But the people of Mudhku have additional worries: they have to be careful that their cattle and frightened children stay at home all the time because many wild animals have taken advantage of the calm of the curfew to expand their territory: tigers sneak into the village day and night and eat up the many stray dogs.

Here as in the whole country, the schools are still closed. The four-month lockdown has weakened the country and the population financially to such an extent that the majority of businesses such as transport companies, schools, and stores, which were already heavily burdened by bank debts before the crisis, now have to go bankrupt. The schools demanded four months of school fees from the parents to pay the teachers for this time, but since most of the parents are unemployed themselves, they have no money for this. Therefore the government forced the principals to give the teachers 50% of their wages and many schools will have to close. The most missing are the tourists, who are the biggest source of income in the country: Hotels, restaurants, and trekking agencies are also closed.

The whole world will suffer from this corona crisis, but countries like Nepal will be set back years in their development. We will contact you again in December. We would like to thank those who have given extra help to the hungry, as well as all our loyal donors who have supported us for so many years.

Best regards
Elisabeth Montet