News Archive 2016
Update November 2016
After the terrible earth quake in April 2015, this fall I slept fort the first time in my room on the 5th floor again. On this foto you can see, the view is unbelievable beautiful. Our rented house is surrounded by many monasteries. In the front you see a very organized and clean carpentry and further back a factory where they produce Nepal paper.
During my stay of three months, I went downstairs and slept in the office because I felt unsafe in my room because of some earthquakes. But otherwise always stayed and slept in my room.
My first weeks were very much influenced by the mothers and their children. One mother who decided in spring to move out and live on her own with her three children, disappeared with her boyfriend just before I returned to Nepal. When the children returned from school in the afternoon, they only found their clothes. Before moving out, they lived with their mother at Sachham House, and we took care of them while their mother worked. As Sachham is not a children’s home, they will have to leave. But we cannot abandon them. The parents are divorced. We haven’t seen their father in a long time. He came to our house to visit them and didn’t leave a bad impression. But he could never take care of his children. During vacation, he took the children to his old parents. Grandfather was very touched when he dropped his grandchildren after four weeks at Kathmandu. Soni, his granddaughter, never left his house and wanted to go back home to Sachham in Kathmandu as soon as possible. In the beginning, she cried a lot, mostly in the evening in her bed. Now, she is feeling safe again. I tried to find a good home for them but after the earth quake all the children’s homes are full. Next year, a colleague opens up a new home, they will take them in. I hope we will not have to place them elsewhere in the meantime. They had to go through too many changes over the last years.
For care taking of the children, we have to employ another person who is in charge. So far, two mothers shared the tasks of taking care of the children and cooking. They both have one day off in a week. Now they are taking care of 10 children, do the laundry (by hand in cold water), the household, take the children to school. The house mother is especially responsible for a good atmosphere for the children in the house – a huge responsibility! Up to now, a student helped her. She went to college from 5 am – 10 am and was available for all the work in the house for the rest of the day. She is also responsible for guiding a homework group. In spring, she will leave the house and we should find a replacement soon. The work load for our house mother is too big, especially on the off days of the cook. The same applies to our cook who almost never works with the children.
That is why we would like to employ another person who shares the work with the house mother and is also taking care of the homework group. On the off days of the cook she also would replace her.
Today, there are 2 mothers, 2 female students (one student left for a one year internship in Bahrain), 5 male students and 10 children living in Sachham House.
I still appreciate that we are able to have young women and men living under one roof. In Nepal, in families you do not usually talk about any issues concerning adulthood. Questions like “How do I behave towards a woman?” or “Why did she react angry to this sentence?”are not being addressed. The girls very easily feel harassed. Many questions and problems arise and can be dealt with better when living together than trying to solve them theoretically.
In Kathmandu, many young people have to do without any warmth and security. They come as stranger from their small villages into the huge city and have no safety at all. This is, why I think it is important that our organization can continue its work as initially started. Although, it is only one drop on a hot stone. Many drops disperse and wet the stone eventually. Though, sometimes you only see the success after many years.
Sachham is still a construction site and will remain one. There are always problems that need to be solved. Our house must face the actual situation, too. I am very thankful to all our friends and donors for their continued support. After the earth quake, we received many donations which we could use where they were needed most. Today we are very greatful if you support Sachham also in the future with your generous donations.
We wish you all a pleasant season of Advent and Christmas and many happy hours with your family and friends. Good luck for the upcoming year of 2017!
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 31, 2016
Annual Report 2015
The year of 2015 was heavily marked by the severe earthquake on April 25 and the multiple aftershocks. Kathrin Baumgartner was at that very moment in our house and went through it with the children, students and adults.
The first couple days and nights they all spent outside in the back yard under some tarps until we got a big tent to sleep in. After some weeks, our land lord offered us an apartment where we could move to. Our whole family lived in two small rooms for months until the house was repaired. Fortunately, our house did not suffer major damage – just the tiles fell from the walls, some walls crumbled and the neighboring house fell against our house, which caused a big hole in the stair case.
Kathrin took care of the trauma treatment of our family members because they all suffered emotionally from the events.
In the fall, Australian friends visited us at our house whom we have known since the founding of our association. We had some very good times together, and visited a fun park.
One of our older students joined us to visit the village of another student. The village is situated in Gorkha District close to the epicenter where the earthquake struck. The student’s mother now lives in a tin hut because the farm house she used to live in got damaged by the earthquake – like many others in this region. We decided to support her to rebuild her little house.
In May/June we received quite some money for earthquake relieve. We decided to use this money to support the families of our students as well as some other institutions like a home for disabled, for the blind, and others in Kathmandu who did not get any other support.
The next big problem was the closure of the boarder to India in September. The Madhesi people did not agree with the new constitution of Nepal, which resulted in huge protests at the border. The Nepali police stepped in and some 40 people died. Consequently, the Madhesi occupied the border and stopped all import of goods, especially vehicle gasoline and cooking gas, as well as medicine and daily food items. Gasoline and cooking gas were rationed and the prices skyrocketed. People were forced to cook on wood fires, and many restaurants, schools, and hospitals had to close their kitchens. The same applied to us- we had to cook in the back yard on wood burning fires. Everything that would burn was used (i.e. old furniture).
Thanks to donations in November, we had solar panels installed on the roof. Now, at least we have one light on each floor and hot water.
On a positive note, it is great to see a “patchwork family” grow together. They all come from very different regions and ethnicities, and they all have a very difficult past. It takes time for each family member to find their place. At the end of the year, our family now consists of 2 mothers, 9 children, and 14 students. To support the family we employ a teacher and a cleaning lady for a couple hours a week.
Malika is our manager in Kathmandu and takes care of everything, keeps in touch with the schools/colleges, and does accounting. In 2016 we will have to employ an accountant as the work is growing.
As every year, Kathrin Baumgartner spent five months in Kathmandu- two months in the spring and three months in the fall. I myself joined her for three weeks in the spring and two in the fall.
We had five board meetings in Riehen, Switzerland, and many conferences on the phone, as well as skype calls to Malika and the students/children in Kathmandu.
We participated in two flea markets in Riehen, and students collected donations during various events in school.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all board members and volunteers for their efforts and support. My special thanks go to Kathrin Baumgartner who is running the project in Kathmandu during her stay of five months.
To all our members and sponsors – thank you very much for your continued support. Without your donations we could not have dealt with this difficult year. For the education of our students we need your donations so they can complete their studies. We would love to admit more students, but that is only possible with enough funds.
We very much appreciate your support in the future, too.
PS: We offer sponsorships for our family members. Please ask us for detailed information.
Update Spring 2016
On April 18, I landed in a very different Kathmandu than I left in October 2015. The airport was very busy, and after the usual visa procedure I had to wait for another hour for my luggage. Outside I was greeted by a huge crowd, many taxis, and the traffic was terrible. No sign anymore of the fuel shortage – for now.
In our house I was greeted with lots of love and joy. The children all changed to their advantage – physically and socially. They all grew together as a family.
In the meantime, one mother left the house and is living by herself in a small apartment with her three children. She found a job and can support her little family. But we decided to pay for the schooling of the three children, and after school they come to our house until the mother picks them up after work.
By the beginning of April, we took in two other mothers with their one child each.
And the number of students we support grew, too. Now there are three mothers with their 4 children, the 4 children without parents as well as 3 female and 5 male students living in the house.
In addition, we support 12 students who live at home, with relatives or in a hostel. We invited them all to our house to get to know each other.
Currently we support 28 students all together starting at preschool level.
The education of our students varies from Software Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Charter Accountant, Teacher, Nurse, Management, Hotel Management, to Social Worker. Two of our students accomplished exceptional results. One scored 93 % on her exam, the other one was one out of 4 to pass in a class of more than 500 students. We are very proud!
The mothers in our house took on responsibilities. Radha is the house mother and is taking care of all the younger children, Bhima is the cook. Namrata is illiterate. We send her to school to give her the possibility to take the SLC (School Leaving Certificate). She is only 20 years old and has a daughter of 5 years. She will try to get a job and work in her free time outside our house. The students and mothers share most of the chores in our house. The students are responsible for their laundry, their bathrooms and their rooms.
All our family members have a very special past and do not have any financial or family support.
Thanks to generous sponsors we could buy two laptops for the students to share, furniture and a fridge.
During my stay, I made a trip to the county side to visit the family of one of our students who lost their house in the earth quake of April 2015. On our way we saw many long lines for cooking gas and at the gas stations, others were closed. I learned that corruption is big! Police and the military keep the petrol and cooking gas on a shortage to sell it on the black market for a much higher price. To buy a gas tank you have to register and wait about three weeks until you can get it.
Time passes very quickly and we had to say good bye. We are all looking forward to our next visit in September.
June 01, 2016