Oct 19, 2020

Protect and Inspire Street Children in Nepal

Amidst global COVID-recovery efforts, Nepal faces an uphill battle. As one of the poorest countries in the world, the ongoing pandemic poses the threat of widespread economic collapse and irrevocable damage to the lives of thousands of vulnerable children and families. 

It is clear from our work in the region that the impact of COVID-19 on the poorest communities is likely to be long-lasting and far-reaching. Without tailored intervention, a number of serious risks await those Kidasha works tirelessly to support. 

The majority of schools are still closed, which means that thousands of the most vulnerable children are being forced to cope without the safety and routine that schools provide - placing them at higher risk of not wanting to return or struggling to re-adjust to school when they do eventually re-open. Even children who are eager to return to school may not be able to do so, due to their parents no longer been being unable to afford the cost of school fees, uniforms, books, etc. To help the most vulnerable children return to school and improve their future life chances, we are:

  • Facilitating community based classes in slum areas until schools re-open
  • Supplying necessary school materials including uniforms, books, and stationary
  • Lobbying schools to reduce or waive fees for the poorest children

To add to these challenges, it is feared that the impact of Nepal's nationwide lockdown on the economy will lead to many children and young people being lured into exploitative labour situations and/or dangerous work on the street, exposing them to a wide range of risk behaviours, and a hugely detrimental impact on their mental wellbeing.

Furthermore, it is forecast that over half of female students may not return to school when they eventually do open, due to pressure to work or being forced into early marriage to help relieve financial strain on their families.

To protect children from these risks, our staff are working around the clock to:

  • Identify at-risk children on the streets or living/working in local slums 
  • Training children living in slums to be ‘peer educators’ to raise awareness among their friends about protecting themselves from the emerging risks
  • Support the rehabilitation of street-connected children and victims of exploitation by providing counselling, guidance and a safe place to sleep 
  • Support children and families in obtaining justice and compensation for exploitation and child labour 

Pokhara, having for years relied heavily on tourism, has experienced an unprecedented blow to its economy, diminishing income streams for thousands of people and pushing even more families into poverty.

Likewise, with thousands of families relying on remittances from migrant workers abroad - which last year made up 30% of Nepal's GDP - families are struggling to survive with virtually no income or government support

To give families a chance of survival amidst these growing challenges, we are working to:

  • Provide immediate food and hygiene materials to the most vulnerable families
  • Help families access new livelihood opportunities
  • Support families to access government support and other local services

Sadly, there is no quick-fix solution to COVID-19 and the devastation it is causing in Nepal. It is imperative that we continue to work to develop long-term solutions to address the systemic, root causes of extreme poverty, now seriously exacerbated by the pandemic.

As always, we are enormously grateful for any help, no matter how large or small, you are able to give.

Thank you

The Kidasha Team

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Jun 23, 2020

Protect and Inspire Street Children in Nepal

As the whole world struggles with the pandemic, Nepal is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster and has been completely locked down since the March 25th.  Whilst the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nepal is still relatively low, the curve is now extremely steep, meaning there is little likelihood of lockdown restrictions being fully eased for some time. This means the pressure on the poorest children and families will continue unabated and based on past experience the number of children ending up on the street and outside of family care will increase. Hence the need for our services is more critical than ever.

Since the onset of the COVID pandemic and a severe government-imposed lockdown, the situation for the poorest children and families has considerably worsened. For those living in slums, where extended families live together in small single rooms with no running water, social distancing and handwashing are almost impossible. Furthermore, severe hunger, overcrowded conditions and mounting anxiety within families is a toxic mix that sadly puts children at greater risk of neglect and harm. Also, the majority live hand to mouth surviving on day rate labour or on remittances sent by family members working abroad both of which have now dried up. Whilst the government is providing some support, it is not always reaching those most in need, leaving many at risk of starvation.

There is already mounting evidence of increases in forced child marriage, domestic violence, maternal mortality and suicide as the poorest families struggle to cope. Issues that in ‘normal’ times often cause families to breakdown, leaving children to fend for themselves in abusive labour situations or the street, and that creates even greater risk in the current context. The threat to children’s wellbeing when they are on the street and outside of family care is also exacerbated by the crisis, not only the obvious risk of infection but with tourism at a standstill and hotels, restaurants and bars closed, the usual earning/begging opportunities are scarce, with the resultant risk of severe hunger and other associated health problems.

Our dedicated staff and partners have spent the past couple of months rescuing the most at-risk children - those living on the streets, helping them return to their families or moving them to the safety of our rehabilitation shelter. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these children had never taken the opportunity of support to move on from the street and as such this is their first step to rehabilitation. This means that staff, already working 12-hour days in extremely constrained circumstances, have the additional stress of managing some extremely challenging behaviours, fuelled by sudden withdrawal from substance abuse.

We would be so grateful if you could make a further donation to help our very necessary work reach as many extremely vulnerable children as possible.

Many thanks for your support

 

The Kidasha Team

Feb 24, 2020

Protect and Inspire Street Children in Nepal

We can't thank you enough for your continued support and interest in our projects.  Through your help we have managed to change the lives of many street children in Pokhara.

One success story I would like to share is

Amar (not his real name) was only 10 years old when he first ended up on the street after his mother passed away and he was left in the care of his alcoholic father. On the street, Amar quickly got involved in solvent use and was also vulnerable to abuse from older children. It took our outreach workers over six months to persuade Amar to try to leave the street. After an initial period staying in our rehabilitation centre, Amar decided to try and live again with his father who had since remarried. Although social workers worked to counsel and support him, his father and step-mother, Amar was unable to adjust to living in the home due to his father’s erratic behaviour and returned to the rehabilitation centre. He started going to school again and was an active member of the Children’s Development Bank.

Last year his father disappeared leaving behind Amar’s step-brother. At this point his uncle decided to take care of Amar’s step-brother and Amar began to visit them regularly building a positive relationship. Three months ago, at the end of the school year Amar started to live with his uncle. He has adjusted well and is happy, attending the local school as well as joining the army cadets. Amar is extremely grateful for the support he has received to turn his life around.

I see my old friends still on the street, addicted to drugs and involved in crime and know that could have easily been me.”

We hope to reach more children like Amar and with your help we can.

Thank you again for your wonderful support.

 

The Kidasha Team

 
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