News Archive 2015
Riehen, December 11, 2016
Update November 2015
On September 29, I arrived at Kathmandu airport, with a two hour delay and completely wet luggage. For two hours, it was sitting in a heavy downpour in Istanbul on the runway. We unpacked it all and hung it on the washing line in the back yard. It was a very happy reunion after 6 months. Everybody changed very much to her/his advantage.
Over the last couple of weeks, we had built a small house, that means two simple rooms with a tin roof, which will serve as an emergency room in case of a future earth quake. Right now Kathrin is living in one room and the other one serves as a playroom.
At the moment, the fuel crisis is very present. The border to India is closed and no fuel or other trucks can pass into Nepal. This crisis was initiated by the inauguration of the new constitution. The Madhesi tribe in the southern part of Nepal and on the Indian side of the border are feeling they are in disadvantage by the new districts and not enough represented in the Government of Nepal. Since the end of August, dozens of people died during uprisings in the border regions. Nothing works anymore in the small Himalayan State between India and China. The small country in the mountains is feeling strangulated by the big neighbor India. Fuel, medicine, groceries, cooking gas are much more expensive and many things are not available anymore. Schools do not provide lunch, hospitals had to close down some units, hotels closed their kitchens, restaurants closed or limited their menus and opening hours. Many people – like us too - have no cooking gas and have to use wood to cook in the back yard. There are almost no cars in the streets, you see mostly very crowded busses, people riding on the top.
We too, were effected when one of our children –Pabitra- had to be admitted to the hospital to rule out a meningitis. She fell unconscious after dinner, and we could not get a taxi. Luckily, our neighbor volunteered to take her and Malika on his motorbike. After intense testing and 5 days of antibiotics she could return home, on the motorbike again.
Our Australian friends from Perth – the Gilbert Family – visited us and we took a trip to Gorkha district where the April earthquake hit heavily. Together we visited the mother of one of our students. Her house was destroyed, too. Everywhere we saw the remains of the houses or landslides. Some Indian NGO was starting to build simple bamboo/clay huts with tin roofs for families of 5. As we talked to villagers, we were told that the international help started but only goes as far as there were roads. In regions far away people lost their houses, their harvest, and their cattle, goats. They have nothing to survive the winter.
As some of our students originate from those villages, we decided to support them to rebuild their homes.
Over the last months our little family grew to a total of 21 students and 2 single mothers with their 5 children. Not all students live in our house, some stay in hostels or live with their parents.
Now we offer sponsorships for all our family members. We are happy to provide more information if interested in supporting us.
We are wishing you all a beautiful Holiday Season and a New Year of peace and happiness
PS: After writing this report, we had solar panels installed on the roof to provide warm water and also independence from the power outages
Riehen, Mai 05, 2015
Kathrin Baumgartner returned from Kathmandu May 1st. She lived through the terrible earthquake together with the children in our house. Her memories are still very fresh and it will take a lot of time to overcome this terrible experience. But most importantly, nobody was seriously hurt. During the heavy aftershocks they all slept outside for many nights. It was cold and rainy. After a couple days a friend from another children’s home gave us a tent and a water purifier. After about a week, our landlord found us a temporary apartment with two bedrooms to stay where 3 adults, 2 students and 9 children are living for now. Anything is better but living in a tent during rainy season! Schools will stay closed for another two weeks, and the children need to be kept busy, which is not an easy task in a small apartment.
Our house is badly damaged but stable and it can be repaired within three months. The landlord promised to start the work as soon as possible after the damage will have been assessed.
Compared to this, the people in the villages in remote areas suffer much more. The villages are difficult to reach and the damage is bigger. The villages far off the trekking routes are in serious need. They can probably not count on any government or international help for quite some time.
Most of our students and single mothers originate from those areas. That’s why we decided to help those villages. Local friends and some of our students will travel to those areas, take photos and assess the damage. These people all of whom we have known for a long time and trust, will coordinate and supervise our help. In September Kathrin and I will return to Nepal and check for ourselves the progress of the reconstruction work.
Nevertheless, we may not lose the focus on our original project: Supporting gifted students who do not have the means to pay for their education, and to provide housing and education to single mothers and their children. They still need our/your help.
We are proud to offer sponsorships for all the members of our „big family“, and provide specific information if you wish.
We very much appreciate any support.
Riehen, January 15, 2015
Update January 2015
Last year in summer Kathrin Baumgartner, Dr. Ruth Gonseth, and I founded the association Sachham, and since a lot has been happening:
In August we installed the association in Nepal with all the necessary paperwork in order to get accepted as a non-profit organization. We are not obliged to pay any taxes to the Government. Also, in Basel Stadt und Basel Landschaft we are approved as a non-profit organization and the donations are tax deductable.
In November we rented a house in Kathmandu, and furnished it with the minimally necessary furniture such as beds, tables, and chairs. A hotel donated all the curtains we needed.
The young family already moved in. That are the four children at the age of 2-8 we have been supporting since August. Their uncle walked them in 5 days from their village in the western part of Nepal to Kathmandu because their father committed suicide, and the mother became mentally ill. She could not take care of her children any more, and is since in a monastery for treatment. We found a single mother with two boys to take care of them.
This month another mother with her three children is moving in, and two young women who will start their professional education in spring. Also, we have an English teacher living there. She is taking care of all the administrative work, and she is supervising homework after school for the children of our house.
In April we will start supporting two siblings. We already promised to pay for their further education, they will finish 12th grade in March and keep living at home with their parents who both work at a carpet factory and cannot pay for their further education.
From one of the children homes in Kathmandu we know three young men who asked for our financial support to continue their studies.
As a next step we now have to draft a contract to define the terms of our support for the students and the handling of the “student loan”. We would like the students to stay and work in Nepal at least two years after finishing their education in order to give back to their country and pay back part of the loan.
Kathrin Baumgartner will be leaving for Kathmandu on 02/27, I will be leaving on March 10. Right now we have a friend who is taking care of our interests there.
After my arrival in Nepal, I will be contacting Government schools as their diplomas are accepted everywhere in Nepal. My objective is to secure reduced admission fees and tuition for our students. Also, I am in touch with the local Helvetas branch. They will support me setting up the appointments.