We went on a home visit to see K's parents today. We went to the basement bar for the first time last year.Mum was out then. Uma was not happy about the home condition then, and had a word with mum when she came to lunch. Uma urged mum to move to somewhere more suitable , what with 6 girls growing up in the household. Nothing has changed
The family lives in 2 rooms. It looks like the temporary outside wall was rendered to enclose the spaces into 2 bedrooms.The walls were covered in black ,damp and mouldy patches( in the summer).Old newspaper was used to cover bits of the wall. The rooms have a small bed each, with floor covering for the children to sleep in. Imagine what it must be like in winter- no heating with damp walls and floors !
One has to go down the dark dingy basement bar to get to the bedrooms at the back . We saw big rats running across our path last year.Therefore I was particularly nervous today that we would encounter this again.The dark dingy bar reminded me of the twilight zone. Imagine having to live like this all the time.Its pretty horrific
The bar is a place where local labourers come to relax and consume the cheap local brew.One can understand that the mother needs to work and make a living. She has obviously made her choice. Mum is a haughty looking woman wearing lots of gold and jewellery. She serves her customers drink and food as well.Unfortunately, with the older 3 girls growing up, they are living in a very unsuitable environment.The eldest have left since to stay with a teacher .K, the child we are sponsoring is 12 going on 13. She helps to serve the customers after school. She has been groped and touched by the somewhat drunken customers before now. She is starting to develop, and Uma is very unhappy about the state of affairs.
Uma is on a mission. The home visit today turned into a torrent of very strong words(sounds like to me anyway)aimed at the mother. Uma challenged the mother -' Are you not interested to protect your daughters? They are growing up. This is very bad environment for them. Do you want them to become like you?'.Strong exchanges followed. I was there taking in the non verbal communication, because I do not speak Nepali at all. However, through intonation, I understood a lot of what was being said.There were customers sitting behind us who had stopped drinking, witnessing this exchange with a Chinese woman next to one of them. I wondered what they must make of all these.
Uma was on a crusade to save her daughters, through bullying and blackmailing , like 'if you do not make changes, we may have to stop sponsoring your daughter next year etc' When we left, I experienced for the first time, that the mistress of the house did not wish us goodbye- 'Namaste' with both palms held up together.Mum was angry. She glared at us as we left the bar. No matter.
Uma and I talked about this. There is really not a lot we can do about it. She can see K getting into some trouble by the time she is 14/15 years old , and be on her own . Her life will be over by then. It is a very likely outcome, and I totally agree with Uma.
So , what's next ?