Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Little Children are Suffering!

It is often difficult for people in the developed world to understand what happened to developing nations that left them so far behind in infrastructure and very basic things like clean water, sewage systems, electricity, hospitals and schools.  Was it a lack of natural resources? Domination by a greedy colonial era superpower? Or some other catastrophe that devastated their economy and kept them from developing?

In Nepal, it seems to have been in large part due to selfish and very poor decision making by the ruling Ranas from the 1850's to the 1950's.  During this period, education was only available, at a price, to the privileged elite.  According to several articles available online, only between 2% and 5% of the population had at least some education in 1950, and one article reported that only 86 girls in the entire country had an education in 1950.  The Ranas felt that their power would be threatened by an educated public, and so they forbade education, including contact with the outside world, and radio.

After the King reestablished his control over the Kingdom in 1951 education was allowed, although it was neither compulsory nor provided by the government.  Still, some progress was made.  According to the 2001 census 48.2% of the population (female: 34.6%, male: 62.2%) were literate.

During the 18 years that I have been traveling to Nepal, the government has been in a terrible upheaval and even now, in May of 2010, it has been reported that more than 100,000 people have come to demonstrate in the capital of Kathmandu in order to shut down the government with strikes until the current government steps down.  These demonstrations are being promoted by a group called "The Maoists."

Here is a recent letter I read from one teacher in Nepal:

 Millions  of  thanks to you all  from the  mountains  of  Nepal. We  are  praying  that you are  well. The  situation  is  very  bad  here, Maoists  are  demonstrating  all over the  country  and  everything  is  closed. Last  week  they  have  collected  a lot of  money  from  all the  Nepalese people by threatening them.  We  teachers  are  suffering  more  because  we  had  to  pay them 4000 Nepalese   rupees (about $60)  otherwise   they  can  do  anything to us.  I am  in my village   feeding  the  cows and  goats right now. Maybe  next  week  our  school may  open.  Life  here  is  going  difficult again.  Millions of  'thank yous' for  remembering  us.

$60 would be an entire month's pay for many Nepalese teachers.  These teachers often have second and third jobs to help support their families, and their spouses and children are also working in local agriculture so that their family can survive. Teachers have been abducted by Maoists, tortured, and held for ransom, because Maoists make the assumption that the teachers have more money than average citizens and therefore should be paying more.  A teacher's whole family is threatened when the Maoists come to collect.

Children who have grown up in Nepal during the past 20 years have had to struggle for their education.  Even if they wanted to go to school and their parents had the money to pay for it, the schools have often been closed down because of the endless general strikes.  With greedy men threatening the teachers and their families, as well as some of the children's families, how will these children receive the education needed to build the necessary infrastructure?  It is time for the differing political factions to work together peacefully for the prosperity of their children and their country.

The legacy all parents should give to their children is an insurance policy in happiness; but the premiums must be paid today, during their upbringing. -Param Pujya Ma

Suffer little children. Do not hinder them, either by word, or by a bad example.- Jesus (Matthew 19:14)

(This is background information to help you understand what happened when Tania and I visited a mountain school with a bag of books.)


  1. Many people in the developed world have no clue what it means to live in a poor country of the developing, or Third World. I've been infuriated and appalled by comments like "I came from nothing and if I can do it, why can't they?" and "If only they'd get off their butt and put in a day's work."

    I appreciated learning a bit more about Nepal. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. there's such disparity in the experiencing of people all over the world. there is suffering in the form comfort and security takes in the "first world". suffering in the form daily life takes in "the third world". i found the quote of param pujya ma breathtaking. thanks for this butternut. steven

  3. You are a force for good in the world, Buttnernut. Thank you so much for opening our eyes and hearts!

  4. So sad that still, greedy and ruthless people can dominate and ruin a small country.

  5. Such a sad story. After reading your last post, and seeing pictures of those sweet children, it puts a face on this one. Thanks for doing what you can, maybe someday all will have a chance at a decent education and living conditions.

  6. This post is so powerful. You're such a wonderful advocate for this country, Butternut. And you're right, most of us are oblivious about the conditions under which two thirds of the world's people live.

  7. I love what Steven said. I'll continue to pray. As always I enjoy these post so much. I love learning and understanding. Thank you Jennifer.

  8. In a world of obscene privilege, yes, it exists in abundance here, it is necessary for us to meditate, pray for the safety and health of the babies, the children who suffer..never hesitate to help the children.
    Thank you for the amazing work you do!

  9. Terrible what the lust for power and money will allow humans to do to other humans. My how we do take our simple right to learn forgranted. Thank you so much for what you bring to this country and its people and how you share the information here.

  10. My reaction to this is oddly greedy and even this term seems wrong. I am so grateful for what our children have. And then - then, I wonder and worry and care about the children of Nepal.

    You are a special woman to share as you do.


  11. I was born and raised in Kathmandu, I never had any chance to travel these corners inside Nepal. It is such a shame how imbalance the whole situation is within a same country regarding education and household. I belonged to a rich family background and I was given good education Now I left my own country and living here in one of the world's most developed country using expensive notbook trying to realize what went wrong? I believe all most everyone who are from kathmnadu as well as other cities from Nepal don't know the situation around such a country side or may be they try to ignore it. Because of the Anxiety of life, no one cares about it. And the politic and all the politicians are not capable of anything beside making money for their own. May be around 20% of population or less pays tax. And all most everyone who were given good education are already out of country as I am. But for me it was not my decision to leave my own country. Anyways I love my country and I love my children too and for there sake I cant go back. But I will do something good to those children out there I promise. May be one of them will realize about it before it's too late. otherwise the story will never end. Thank you.