November news

Written on December 2, 2015 by Chrissy & Kurt

Things are not good in Nepal. You may have heard news about political issues that have resulted in major civil unrest, violence, death, and blockades at the Indian border since September. The site of the blockades is the supply route for essential commodities such as petrol, gas, medical supplies, building materials. For excellent insights into the ongoing situation see the link in the column on the right further down this page entitled “Commentary & news updates post earthquake”.

Nepal is on a downward spiral, grinding to a halt as its lifeline is being cut. Winter is on the doorstep, homes are still not rebuilt and illness is on the increase. The only thing doing well is the black market where goods sometimes become available at inflated prices that are plainly unaffordable for the average Nepali. Seven months after the earthquake the Nepal government has finally lifted restrictions preventing more than $4 billion of foreign aide from reaching building programs – though the locals are cynical that the money will not, in reality, reach its targets. The government with its new Prime Minister and new Constitution seems to be ineffective and chaotic.
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Dadagaun is feeling the consequences of the crisis. Building materials such as cement and reinforcing iron are very expensive and in short supply just when rebuilding is about to swing into action. (A date has been set to start brickmaking today, 5th December). Transport of materials from Kathmandu to Dadagaun requires truck hire and petrol – also expensive and difficult to organise.

To add to their woes, the lack of fuel for cooking or warmth has taken on a new urgency as the weather gets colder and the villagers continue to make do in tin shelters. Winter in this mountain village is biting – bringing with it increased sickness for all ages. You can imagine how hygiene is compromised with no ready access to hot water. AND the supply of timber for firewood has all but dried up. It was always illegal to gather wood from the local forests of Shivapuri National Park but authorities are no longer turning a blind eye. They are now cracking down on anyone caught and imposing big penalties.

The concept of exploring alternative technologies such as wind, solar or hydro for power (or even briquettes from agricultural waste for fuel) has always been on the table, but the stars have never lined up as far as having the right person on hand, financial support and a willingness on the part of the villagers to consider new ideas or break with traditional ways. The opportunity still exists if anybody out there wants to run with the idea!

One glimmer of hope is the upcoming visit by Paul and Sarah, Aussie teachers who have helped at Dadagaun School on several visits over the last few years. Paul has a $500 donation with him and a goal to organise a truckload of firewood that the government claims to have available in Kathmandu – unfortunately, not for free. If successful, this firewood will be distributed among the villagers and hopefully will alleviate some of their discomfort for a while. Let’s hope other volunteer groups visiting soon will also be able to assist with some of these issues.
Sept 10. edit

Sarah and Paul will also help at the school, following on the work that French volunteer Guillaume undertook during his 8 week visit. Guillaume achieved great things for the school by networking the computers and updating anti-virus programs, helping to implement an English enrichment program for struggling students, developing a time-efficient marking system for exams, helping with the Nursery planning documents and being a support in many classes especially English. Bravo Guillaume!

The children have replanted the garden at the school. Their giggles and chatter rise on the wind as always and inspire hope for the future in an otherwise fairly grim situation.

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