Fuel shortages and political violence following a two-week blockade on the Indian border are making providing aid and charitable support to local communities increasingly difficult for our team in Nepal.
In the southern Terai region, necessities such as medicine are not making their way into Nepal and there is widespread worry about possible food shortages as trucks sit stationary, choking supplies.
The recent adoption of a new constitution by Nepal’s Government has led to violence around the country and at least 40 people have been killed in clashes during the past month, while thousands of protesters have blocked the border.
Many border regions have become too violent to work in, preventing help from reaching the area’s most vulnerable, while there are reports of street children being used in clashes with police and others seeking refuge in India.
Street children in Birgunj, where the Our Sansar children’s home is situated, are being used by Madhesi parties to throw stones and attack vehicles.
“We can’t even reach out to them to try and help them due to safety reasons,” Our Sansar director Julia Krepska said.
“People in Raxaul – a town in India on the border – are providing food to the protesters as they are supporting the protests against the constitution, and now many street children from Nepal are going across the border and get fed there.”
The situation has become critical.
“We are still provided with some supplies – we just need to call the shop owners and then they provide us with food – but we don’t know how long this will last for, and the supplies will end at some point,” Julia said.
“We cannot visit our projects easily, children don’t go to school, many shops are closed.”
Strikes and protests have also affected public services and children have been out of school for nearly two months – while around the country, all non-emergency transport has been halted.
“The schools have been now closed for about 50 days, before then they were closed due to the earthquake, then summer holidays – so children in the Birgunj area this year have hardly had any classes,” Julia said.
“Our project manager, Ayush, can’t even refill his motorbike to visit and reach out to children in more remote villages, which is an essential part of our work.”
Nepal is still reeling from a devastating earthquake which killed more than 8,700 people in April and the unrest is now pushing up prices for necessities for those who could least afford them.
The situation in the border towns is also affecting Our Sansar’s work for child survivors of the earthquakes in Dhading.
“We can’t send some of the Dhading children to their families due to the lack of transport – we’re all pretty much stuck where we are,” Julia said.
Navavarsha means a New Year in the Nepali calendar. There are actually three New Year celebrations that occur in Nepal; Navavarsha, the Tibetan New Year and the New Year of the Gregorian calendar. The Nepali calendar is known as Bikram Sambat and begins with the first month of Baisakh.
There are always a large number of festivals and religious events occur in Nepal during Navavarsha. The day begins with prayers and worships inside temples and the Hindu ritual of Puja. After Puja is presented, locals will walk around the temple in an anti-clockwise direction, whilst ringing bells. People go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in various ways as this day is also a national holiday.
The celebration of the Navavarsha also comes with many leisure activities that include street dances, parades and family reunions. The occasion has always been enthusiastically participated and fully funded by the organizations and individuals. Parts of the event are the traditional games and sports that the people organize during this day.
All of the children at Our Sansar celebrated by having a lovely meal of dhal (lentils), bhat, pakauda and achar (pickle) and chicken curry. This meal is traditional for the Terai region. In this region, there are less celebrations compared to regions with many tourists such as Kathmandu. However the children may not have had the luxury to celebrate the Nepali New Year at all, if it wasn’t for all the work by Our Sansar.
We’re hoping that they are able to celebrate the Nepali New Year, every year. And we want more of Nepal’s street children to celebrate with them. You can help us achieve this – by buying a chicken! Find out more about this here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/buy-a-chicken/
Happy Navavarsha to all! We hope everyone has a great Nepali year 2072!
*For more information on Navavarsha, please see: http://www.nepal.com/blog/nepali-new-year-navavarsha
I’m sure you’ll all agree how wonderful it’s been the past few months to see Our Sansar’s Children Home progress and flourish; from seeing the boys excel in class to playing guitar to enjoying helping out with the new chickens! It’s easy to forget how far they’ve come. Settling into a new home is a difficult transition especially for children going into the unknown; introducing a child into the home is always a delicate situation. One of the most delicate introductions the staff at Our Sansar have had took place last Friday…
Our Sansar staff and the District Child Welfare Board had been working together to help rescue a 5 year old boy from the streets of Parsa, Birgunj. The young boy had previously spent his entire life living on the streets with his mother. Harinath Prasad Sha (the police officer who helped lead the rescue), said “We organised this rescue with an aim of providing the boy with some much needed care and education.”
Local teacher, Sabtiri Banjare noted she once asked the mother to start sending her son to the local school; but the mother refused claiming she was capable of teaching her son herself. Up until this point the young boy has received little, if no form of education.
Police claim the mother arrived in town when the boy was only three months old, and witnesses stated she would often experience strange episodes which resulted in physical abuse towards the young boy. Officers agreed this rescue should have happened a long time ago, and were grateful that Our Sansar were able to step in and help.
While similar stories to this are no doubt taking place in dozens of locations around the world, Our Sansar is currently the only charity providing this kind of help and support in the region.
We’d therefore like to extend a huge thank all those who’ve helped.
We’ll keep you updated.
To learn more about the work Our Sansar do, or to find out how you can support our cause visit: www.OurSansar.org
Although our final days have come at the home, they were filled with laughs as we played with the children in the garden and smothered the walls with their painted handprints.
It’s only been a week but it’s seemed like each day has had its moments to remember.
The past few days Sean and Mukesh have been getting up at 05:00hrs each morning heading into Birganj to make contact with street children in order to collect data for the survey. With the survey aiming to gain a better understanding of the backgrounds and circumstances of street children in the city, it has provided a real insight and sombre experience into what these children have to experience first hand. We hope that the work undertaken allows for NGOs to make better policy relating to interventions involving street children in Birganj helping to make their lives that little bit less of a struggle.
As we said, each day has been filled with its moments to remember and one of the things we will be sure to miss is the overwhelming sense of community – or ‘Sansar’ as they say in Nepali – that exists in the area of the home. Each evening a family who make their way home with their buffaloes stop by to help us milk our buffalo. Although the family has been working all day, they are more than happy to stop by and help a neighbour. Something we don’t think we’ll forget after leaving here.
It seems to be a pretty deep last post but our time here has been nothing but laughter with the children and staff here. Even when we left the Children’s Home in the morning with shouts of ‘Goodbye Auntie and Uncle!’ it ended with taxi driver giving us our final laughs. Bumbling along the dirt track we ended up with a puncture on our way to the bus station. Nonetheless our brilliant taxi driver – sporting a t-shirt made by the well known brand ‘Dalvin Klein’ – pushed on managing to change the tyre in time for our bus to Pokhara.
We hope that we manage to have as much fun as we have done on the rest of our travels through India and Nepal.
Thank you Our Sansar and to everyone that made our visit…