Children sponsored by «Help in Action» on their first day of school
Sangita Tamang with her mother in the Healing Centre Clinic
In a country such as Nepal where the majority of people are poor, it is difficult to fix a criteria about who should receive help and who should not. Everyday we all have choices to make - what to wear, what to eat, which film to see - but the choices that «Help in Action» make every day are sometimes really a matter of life or death, and choices that cannot be taken lightly. The association has the possibility to offer to families not only the basic necessities of food, clothing, medical care and education, but more frequently also to give the possibilty of life and a future.
After looking into the eyes of Draupadi, the five year old girl who urgently needs a heart operation, it would have been difficult to send her away without offering some kind of solution. It would have been just as difficult to send away Sunmaya Tamang, who appeared in our office with her five starving and sick children. Her husband bedridden since six since months and unable to work, she had reached a point of total desperation and exhaustion; the local shops would no longer give her credit and she had no money to buy food or medicines. Her last hope was «Help in Action» and we did not have the heart to turne her away.
These two cases are all too real, and are the kind of requests that we have to deal with everyday in our Nepal office. We try our best to give constructive aid to those in genuine need - sometimes by advancing money until a sponsor is found for the them or, in the case of Draupadi by making a collection - those people who are not considered as urgent are placed on a waiting list.
We now have around 250 Nepalese families with sponsors - a number that is increasing everyday - each family with its own problems and emergencies. In fact, this summer, the volunteers of «Help in Action» probably spent more time in clinics and hospitals than in any other place. From TB to malnutrition, dysentry to eye and skin infections, heart problems to snake bites, we accompanied families on visits to doctors. We also realised that many of these families had purposely waited to get treatment, often because paying for medicine means renouncing money from their monthly income which most families desperately need for food and other necessities.
The awareness of this problem prompted us to find a solution to encourage people to take better care of their health. In future, all sponsored families will be issued with an identity card which when presented to the Healing Centre Clinic will allow them to receive the necessary treatments and services without a direct payment. The Clinic will be reimborsed later, directly by our office. This will also ensure that the stock of medicines available to the Clinic for free distribution will be used for those people who are still completely without help.
As our relationships with the families deepen and a feeling of trust is built, we have also uncovered another small problem - this time stemming from the elder brothers and sisters of sponsored children. As more and more children have the wonderful opportunity to go to school, elder siblings are living with a sense of sadness and frustration at having «missed out» on school themselves. These teenagers are now asking - rightly so - for their chance to learn how to read and write.
Unfortunately, at this advanced age, the schools will no longer admit these children into nursery class - saying that it causes embarrasment for them and difficulties for the much younger children. A heartfelt request is difficult to ignore and so a solution for these children had to be found quickly: we eventually contacted a teacher who we emplyed to guide a daily study group for these children. In this way, it is hoped that the children will be able recuperate some of the education that they have missed, and with the individual attention maybe eventually they will be able to be inserted into normal classes with their peers.
The seriousness and energy with which these children have dedicated themselves to their school work, is indeed proof that we made the right decision and that we should all remember that it is never too late to learn...
Due to the increasing number of children sponsored in Nepal - and an ever increasing workload - «Help in Action» was offered this summer a larger and more comfortable office in the Himalayan Healing Centre.
With thanks to yet another generous donation made by a friend in England the office in Nepal was also equipped with a computer, scanner, printer and access to internet, making both organisation and communication faster and easier.
information about any of the projects of «Help in Action» please contact
us at Via Marco Polo 13 - 20124 Milan - Italy.