Saturday, 3 October 2015

Children of Kathmandu 2

With the fuel ( petrol ) crisis caused by the closing of its borders, the Indian government   is playing silly games with the Nepal's economy .Being landlocked on 3 sides by India, Nepal is at the mercy of India in terms of its food, fuels and all manners of merchandise .It's no surprise that the taxis are now charging fares 3 times as much as in  the previous year.Uma and I have tried to cut down on our  taxi journeys wherever we can. We try to do one round trip  as much as we can to maximise the fare. However, some home visits needed to be done regardless.

KIKN has identified a family with 3 children living in a steel container  in the aftermath  following  the earthquake .The children attend Jana Sudhar school..The eldest, Aneta Anai is a small 14 year old in class 6. She speaks very good English. They are good students according to Raju ,the teacher who accompanied us to the home visit. Both the parents are deaf and dumb. They are casual labourers.Their daily earning , when there is work is around £4-£5 combined.

It was  a drive to the rural Kathmandu where the family lives. We saw the remaining  evidence of the destruction caused by the earthquake.  Many of the houses in central Kathmandu escaped unscathed comparatively speaking.Once we are on the outskirt, many buildings with big cracks as well those collapsed into piles of rubble are still dotted along the main thoroughfare.

On the way we were told that there are 11 members of the family who are living in this aluminium  house.There are 3 generations, including 2 uncles ,an aunt and their children.It transpired  that they have difficulty finding a house/a partment with 3 rooms. Many landlords are not keen to have such a large family to rent a room?.So they ended up there in this zinc house, built with bamboo structure inside with aluminium panels as the walls. One could see all the holes where the bamboo poles meet the aluminium  frame.They are going to be cold in winter, just like the bamboo school in Gorkha. The  difference  is they have grandparents who are in their 70s. It is going to be very hard for them

Uma and I did not like the look of the building. It is very filmsy, a gust of  strong wind could tear open the panels. It is situated on a raised and open ground. The only good thing is there is some land to grow vegetables  which they have done to be more self efficient. It is ironical  that the aluminium house is surrounded  by some real fancy building being built right next door to it

On talking to the family, I experienced for the first time the grief and sorrow of a mother who lost her young son and daughter in law during the earthquake . They were all in the house when the earthquake  struck. It happened so quickly that they did not have a chance to get out. The house just collapsed with the whole family buried in it. They had to dig themselves out. Unfortunately  her  son and daughter in law did not make it.The aunt brought out a photo and showed us the young couple. They were probably in their early 20s. The poor woman was  howling with such pain. I just didn't  know what to do or say. I touched her on her shoulder....I looked to Uma who was trying to offer some words of comfort. We both felt pretty helpless and useless  (for a change.)

The family was grateful for the grocery KIKN  bought for them. There were 30 kilos of rice, 5 kilos of flour , 6 litres of cooking oil and a crate of eggs. That should see them through for  a little while. KIKN is paying the rent for the zinc house until the budgetted money runs out. With  the rent at 12000 a month, it will keep them going  for a   year. Uma stressed that the money is only for a year,  and no more.

We left feeling somewhat overwhelmed....

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