Michael’s CV stories: April 17th
An update on our situation in Nepal: We have been in a lockdown period for about three weeks now. What this means is the only time that you may be on the street is in the early mornings to buy vegetables, grains, and staples from your neighborhood seller. The quantity and quality of the vegetables have been quite good, but the cost about triple what it is normally. Before sunrise, a few licensed vegetable wholesalers can go to the wholesale market and load their trucks for distribution in neighborhood shops. A licensed milk truck is also allowed to pick up milk from the dairy and bring it to the local shops. From two days ago, bread has been brought to our local shops from a small bakery here in Dhapasi.
Along a street in Dhapasi
Shortly after sunrise people will go to their nearest or favorite neighborhood shop to get what they need. In front of the shops, circles have been spray painted to mark where one is allowed to stand. You hop-scotch your way forward as people are served. The shops will have ribbon crisscrossing the opening to keep people away from the counter. You call out your order, the owner will place the items in a basket that you stretch to retrieve, then you put the money in the same basket and the transaction is finished. People wear masks, and some gloves. The shopkeepers spray the money with a disinfectant when it is in the basket. They are wearing gloves.
Waiting to make a purchase from a shop in Dhapasi
The people of Nepal are taking this situation with the gravity it deserves. Our only chance as a nation is to prevent the CV from coming into the country. Sadly, combating it would be Quixotic at best. Everyone knows that it would be tantamount to kicking a massive beehive if the CV spreads here. According to the latest government report, there are presently 16 confirmed cases in Nepal, I believe all attributed to people coming from other countries. I do not know how testing is done, perhaps only when someone shows up sick, but the government has said that contact searches are being done for each case.
It seems to be that natural disasters and plagues bring out the essence of people. Good people seem to be better, wanting to reach out and help others, while bad people become worse. The past three weeks have brought both to my door. The bad situations seem explosive, the pressure of restricted movement, lack of money, poor nutrition, and uncertainty build until something sets the person off.
And there are small gestures that reveal a person has been thinking about their lives and where they fit in humanity. They wish to reach out to others, even if behind masks and at two meters distant. They do so with their softening eyes, a wink, a nod, and their patience in line. This is a big tell for me, as people in Nepal tend to elbow their way to the front of any line, resulting in loud chaos.
There is a lot of need now and it is growing. This is a cash society, and when you have no cash you get nothing, be it medical care or food. NOH has been supporting our usual array of people; at least those that we can reach. There is one young friend of ours, a nurse, now unemployed while caring full time for a mother in her last stage of cancer. There is no father, and there are two younger sisters, neither who work. We have been unable to reach each other so that I can get money to her for her mom’s care. The police and army patrol the streets and you do not want to be out of your own neighborhood after the early morning lift for food, or even out period. We will think of a solution to getting money to her in the next day.
As we previously reported, we managed to get most of our children back to their villages before the lock down. Those who have a guardian, an aunt, in few cases a mother, a grandparent, or older sibling are staying with them. Some who had none of the above are staying with their friends in their homes. All are well and out of harm’s way. They help with the daily work in the fields, with livestock, cooking, and cleaning. We have a good network of communication among all our children and staff.
One of our older daughters called me the other day to ask if we could help a young girl in her village. Her description of the situation caused me profound sadness, followed by determined joy. My daughter Urmila learned from neighbors that a young girl named Shristi, has been abandoned by her mother and father. The parents, uneducated and poor, split from one another. Both quickly found new partners. Shristi was with her mother, but then her mother’s new partner said she could not stay, and her mother told her to go live with her father. The father and his partner both told her to go stay with her grandmother. The grandmother told Urmila that she is tired of caring for her, saying her father is only my stepson and so the girl is not even my kin. So, the grandmother is now refusing to care for her. Urmila found Shristi sitting under a tree and crying. If she goes to either parent’s house, they beat her and send her away. When she goes back to her grandmother’s, she scolds her, calls her names, and says she will not care for her anymore. Imagine if you will, being Shristi, your parents beat you and tell you to go away. She is only nine or ten years old. No one will feed her. She is out on her own, no house, no water, no other clothes, no food, no toilet, and no love. At what age could any of us handle that? So I instructed Urmila to take her in and provide her with comfort and explain to her that she can come and live at NOH, where young girls live among many friends, are encouraged to dream big, are able to live in security, sleep in a warm and comfortable bed, eat nutritious food, go to school, laugh, play, and feel loved and appreciated by everyone in the family. Her nightmare is over. Urmila came to us when she was seven, thirteen years ago, and in another year will graduate from dental school. Now it is Shristi’s turn.
Shristi’s story is all too common for us. In village life, illiteracy, poverty, hunger, and alcohol turn people mean. They have maybe never known love of a parent and thus never muster the same for their children, at least their girl children. Little boys are maybe abused, but they are also kept close in order to help the family one day, to marry and bring in a wife to work as well.
Shristi will be one of nine young girls who will be coming to us as soon as the country re-opens. Each girl has pretty much the same story, either sold or at the edge of being sold, or abandoned. But these girls will all recover their childhood and begin to blossom with great potential. They each will begin to exude joy, love, and compassion for each other, and like the hundreds before them they will feel the love of family and be dedicated, happy young women. Knowing this was the determined joy I mentioned earlier.
Nepal hopes to open by May 1st. Then we are all together again, in our state of blissful cooperation.
We wish you all the absolute best during your personal time of suffering and loss.