Hello from a chilly but upbeat Kathmandu. There is a new energy and optimism in the air, as the decade-long civil war has come to an end. The Maoist insurgents have come in from the cold, joining the new government, and have agreed to participate in elections.
Nevertheless, our scheduled trip to the Dang area to rescue bonded children during the Maghe festival had to be aborted because another group of radicals blocked the roads to the area. This did not stop our local staff from rescuing over 200 young girls from being sent away, and bringing the anti-bonding message to the community with street plays, leaflets and posters. When we began our work in this area in January 2000, the bonding practice was commonplace and more than tolerated. Hundreds, no thousands, of girls would be sent off to work in the homes of strangers far away every Maghe, without any objection from anybody. We have largely eliminated the practice in our target community, with 2700 young girls who had been indentured now living at home and going to school...
And the J and K House children in Kathmandu did their part. On Maghe, they walked the streets of the city with NYOF staff, giving out leaflets asking passers-by not to employ under-aged children as household servants. Then they returned to the office and ate mountains of steaming momos (dumplings).
The kids are on their winter school holiday and are using the time to have fun and do a little good. They visited a run-down orphanage where the children are not nearly as well cared for as they are, brought the kids’ treats, painted the walls of the dormitory, taught a little English, and sang songs with the little ones.
We also enjoyed an outing to a beautiful mountain area about an hour from Kathmandu, where the kids hiked, played vigorously in the clean mountain air, sang and danced around the fire at night, and watched as a baby deer rescued from the forest by the hotel staff was fed milk from a baby bottle. I get so much pleasure from seeing the kids running around in the fresh, sparkling environment under the shadow of the snow-capped peaks, away from the pollution, noise and crowds of the city.
In this world of drive-by shootings, suicide bombings and mass killings, it’s good to know that there is a place in the world where life is getting better day by day.
Warm regards, Olga