Saturday, 27 September 2014

Tale of A Family

Each year Uma and I visits the Magar family during my time here. KIKN sponsors the 2 children, Krisna who is 11 and Rochana who is 13.. Up until KIKN's sponsorsnip, they were just languishing in a very average state school.. From the time the sponsorship started, mother was able to move them to an English speaking  / private school . Their progress in the new school  have been remarkable. Rochana has been promoted twice. She is now a confident girl who told me she is going to become a doctor. We can now converse in English comfortably. Even her brother Krisna is really coming on in his studies. And he wants to be a policeman These 2 children symbolises what KIKN is all about- making a difference to the lives of the children we are helping.

This is against a most dreadful, and yet common social background many of  the women face  every day in Nepal. Both parents are illiterate, originally from the rural countryside. Mother Aneeta, was match made by her grandmother when she was 18. Coming from a poor family has meant that no dowry was possible. Culturally, the woman will be despised by her in-laws and husband. They then feel they have the right to abuse and ill-treat the poor woman.Until she was married, she was  not aware that her husband has a first wife, a fact that was known to her grandmother ! So imagine her shock and horror when her husband was going from one home to another. He is an unskilled labourer.He is  more often out of work than in. So he gets drunk through frustration and beats Aneeta up..Aneeta leaves home at 6 each morning, knocking on doors to do washing , cleaning and any household chores  going. She does not return home much before 8pm each day. I see her at Uma's because she does all  the bulky washing at the orphanage- all the bed linens and towels and the children's uniform.  A very lovely woman, working herself to the bone also the bread winner for the family.

To my horror, she has told Uma that the family has moved for the second time in as many years. Apparently the first wife has now .moved in to live with them- all in one room no bigger than 10x12ft. It is a fact that most  families who migrated from the rural areas to Kathmandu can afford to rent one room only regardless of the size of the family. The family lives, cooks, eats and sleeps in the one rented room, with shared sanitation and washing  facilities drawn from a well with many householders in a block of  dwellings.I have visited many such homes over the years, but it still shocks me nevertheless.It is something that never fails to remind me the reason I am here every year.... to help to give the female children we sponsor the self esteem to enable them to stand up to domestic violence and be financially independent in a very male dominated society. This was the message given to me when I went to see the Nepali Ambassador to UK in London as well as the British Ambassador in Kathmandu in 2011

This recent arrangement is obviously a retrograde step for Aneeta and the children.. There is nothing they can do about it. The first wife does not work. The only stable income is Aneeta's. This has caused. endless violent arguments witnessed by the children. It would appeared that Rochana has asked Uma's sister (who employ her mother part time) that if she really studies hard, would Lai See didi  take her away from all these screaming madness around her because she can no longer concentrate .......and yet her school result are very good indeed !

We visited this afternoon. 2 adults and 2 children are sleeping in a standard size double bed sideways. Interestingly, the first wife is left sleeping on the floor.. Maybe its summary justice.Aneeta appears thinner each year I see her. She is now skin and bones like a skeleton. We took some sweets and fruit for the children .because its festival time..I said to Rochana that she must encourage her mother to eat. She must take care of her mother.Imagine me having to say this to a child in UK under the same circumstances.......

Women have a raw deal in Nepal. And this is a very common tale.............

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