Needy Children in Nepal|
Following is an essay written by one of our volunteers after visiting
the family of a student who is receiving a scholarship from NCEF. The
essay highlights the economic and social realities that are keeping
Nepalese children from going to school.
Contrary to her brittle fingers and the pronounced veins on her temples,
she was actually only 28. 'Namaste.'
She offered a famished yet cautiously warm smile. Her life, it seems,
had taught her not to expect much even from certain promises.
She came to Kathmandu with her husband, hopefully at work as we spoke
but she wasn't sure. The first few years after their move had been good,
better, at least, than the last few. When they arrived in the heart of
Nepal, jobs promised to be abundant, and they were. But after two kids
and multiple jobs, things had changed significantly. Her husband had
become addicted to drugs, bringing with his new habit a descent into
Syringes, lying around the small, rodent infested, fifty square foot
room, from which they were forcibly evicted by the landlord and in which
they now secretly lived, were abundant and became the secret playthings
of her young children.. Mysterious tablets heralded in nights of
obscenities, beatings, mania, and days of his complete disregard for the
kids. He spent even his time on drugs, leaving nothing for the kids. In
a voice still shaky with confusion, she confirmed that it was through
this horrendously destructive transformation that their two children
became her sole responsibility.
Betrayed by a light rustle, a mouse began its afternoon excursion among
the pieces of newspaper under the kerosene stove, causing a momentary
distraction. My eyes wandered from the mud floor on which the stove sat,
to the corner not far away. A nanglo (a pan-like basket) sat on a short
wooden stool, protecting from our adventurous friend a handful of
tomatoes, and a small, sickly looking head of cauliflower: the rations
for the next few days. She worked odd housekeeping jobs, as much her
health allowed, earning a few hundred rupees a week, which was just
enough to keep herself and the two kids alive. She wanted NCEF's help
because she was unable to educate her youngest son.
"Why do you want to send him to school?" Anita asked, her manner
suggesting that she wanted to show me something essential that she had
seen many times before.
"Because I don't want them to be like their father." was the reply.
"How much schooling have you had?"
"I have never gone to school. But I want them [my kids] to have a better
life, to learn to read and write."
Of course, she couldn't send her elder son to school either. But, given
the choice, she reckoned, he had gone to school for a few years already,
and it mattered less that he continue than his younger brother begin.
We walked back through the low, traditionally wooden archways, across
surprisingly musty and narrowly sunlit concrete courtyards, eventually
emerging onto a familiarly bright and bustling street in the heart of
Kathmandu. We followed the fragile figure of our host to another alley,
unspectacular in its appearance, under a peeling hand-painted sign that
seemed to have originally had the name of a school written on it. And in
a few moments, after some hustle and bustle, abundant shouts, a few
slaps here and there, and the rattling of a folding mesh gate being
pushed aside unevenly, we met her youngest son.
The rigid stance and low hanging head, raised only once or twice to look
at the face of his interrogator, unequivocally announced his nervousness
throughout our short conversation, if you could call it that. But I
could feel, in the bowed head, oiled hair, splayed shoes, and tattered,
three year old uniform, why his mother wanted so desperately to help her
son go to school. Part of it, I am sure, was a love that only a mother
can have for her child, and the other part, was a conviction that the
only hope for her son was to go to scool. He smiled when I asked him if
he liked going to school. But I wonder if he would have said, "No" had
he the courage.
This was my first home visit. It was an introduction to the hope that
people's generosity, even if they themselves are on the other side of
the globe, can provide to a disadvantaged child. I think it is important
to remember, although it may be difficult to believe, that this
opportunity and hence this hope cost NCEF donors 70 dollars and the time
required to write and mail a check. My selfish tendencies will
undoubtedly tell me, irrespective of how callous it might sound, that I
shouldn't be donating money, that if the parents cannot take care of
their children, then that is not my problem. But by the same token, the
satisfaction of having helped a child, changed his life, is undoubtedly
great. In fact, I would venture to say, it would be tremendously
difficult to put a monetary value on the positive changes that this
child will go through now that he can attend school. It would also be
difficult indeed to assail the generosity and foresight of the donors
who allowed this child to study. NCEF is simply the medium connecting