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