The family I spoke of in my last blog entry arrived. There was a great sadness about the grandmother; she explained how her son had been so violent, and one time she tried to pull him off of his wife and he broke both of her wrists. She was so sad and had no idea how she would bring up these three children. She is 65 years old and has no money. Although the father was a drunk he did work but he was mentally retarded and found it difficult. As in many cases the mother also worked in the fields and supported the family. Now all support has gone. The grandmother was very genuine and the children were so sweet. The elder boy of 9 years said that would hit his father when he came out of prison. Prison life is very bad here. There is no differential for cases of mental illness; the treatment is the same for all. I have no idea how damaged these children must be, the youngest two are aged 7 and 4 and saw it happening. The mother ran from the house trying to save herself, yet he chased her with a boulder and about 2 minutes away he hit her on the back of her head. The neighbours tried to stop it, but he continued to bash her with the boulder after she was down and knocked out. She was very badly injured and still alive at this time, but was dead on arrival at the hospital.
We are going to visit their home which is up in the hills. We have committed ourselves to give the children school support. This will mean copy, pens, pencils, school bag and uniform. We will also see whether we can give them some way of supporting themselves. We will assess this when we visit in about a week’s time.
We were planning to go to the mountains today 19th February, but unfortunately there was a general strike (this is Nepal!) therefore there were no trucks running or shops open. So we were stuck but we made some use of the day. A woman arrived that had heard about us and trekked 11 hours from her village to ask for help for her grandchildren. There are 2 children, no husband – he ran off. The mother of the children works as a labourer on a building site which means transporting rocks in a basket carried by a handle around the head, this is called a “thunche”.
The 2 children go to a private school which costs 800 R’s per child. We suggested that we would support the children for their education, but that we were only supporting Government school scholarships if the children had parents. Some of our kids have to have full support and we have no alternative but send them to Private schools. But where we can, we support the Government system. Government teachers are much better qualified than private school teachers, they are also paid more and have a pension. But the fact is that the schools are not supported in any other way other than teaching staff and text books. So the Government schools have to fend for themselves. They do manage somehow but not that well. We try, as you can see, to support as many Government schools as possible. To enable children to use the Government system, book, stationery and uniform needs to be supplied by the child’s family.
In this particular case we suggested the children change to a government school and we would support their stationery and uniform and perhaps give some help for the family.
During this visit I have found out more and more about the people that leave their families and go to the Gulf countries. Manpower has representatives in the remote mountain areas. They tell people of how they can earn such good money by working away from home, sometimes for many years. The work in these countries is often not what the people are told. They live in awful conditions, as many as 5 or 6 sharing a room. They send all the money they can home, but it is very difficult and sometimes the only way to keep their families from starving. The saddest part of this is that many never return, the money suddenly stops arriving and they are no longer heard of.