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Life in Nepal

Nepal is a beautiful country -
can life in such surroundings really be so hard?

As far as natural resources go, Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world. It is absolutely awe-inspiring, with the rugged mountain ranges, mighty rivers, and a variety of rare plants and orchids that are found nowhere else on earth. On top of that, it has a marvelous variety of fauna, including some of the rarest birds in the world. But as is often the case, despite all these wonders of nature, Nepal and poverty are synonymous.

Living Conditions

Nepal is considered among the 19th poorest country in the world. You might say that it can be called the 'Taillight of Asia.'
The majority of the population in Nepal are fighting through extreme poverty, every day, just to live. More than half of all people live below the poverty line.

Here are some brutal statistics:

Nepal's infant mortality rate is very high, in newborns it is even higher. The infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world, even though it's declining.
That doesn't even factor in the low life expectancy. The average life expectancy has increased over the past years, but was for a long time as low as 55 years. About 72% of women are illiterate.

Every 14th child does not live past its 5th birthday whereas 2 decades ago, it was even every 5th child.

Life is hard. Facing these kinds of challenges is not for the fainthearted.
Girls in the villages are married off too young, just so that the family has one less mouth to feed. Malnourished, young mothers bear weak children, and this is how the cycle of poverty and sickness remains unbroken.

The endless drudgery of life starts very early for a child. The sad thing is, many of the factors that are causing sickness, would be easily treated in the west.

100,000 children die each year from chronic diarrhea, pneumonia, tetanus, typhus or measles. These are all illnesses that could be quickly cured if there was an infrastructure: clean water or better hygienic conditions. In Nepal, many are lacking even 100 Dollars to save a life.

So much that we take for granted in developed countries is lacking here. Half the population does not have access to hygienic toilets, many don't even have clean drinking water.

10 years of civil wars have robbed many children of a happy childhood, robbed them of their parents or even their entire families. Many more have lost their homes during the earthquakes and suffer from major trauma. Psychologists to help work through these conflicts are rare.

Many try to gain a foothold in Kathmandu, out of desperation and the desire for a better life. But the overcrowded, smoggy Kathmandu with its high unemployment rate proves to be a final destination for many.

They end up on the streets.
You can find them in tourist areas, in the slums and even on the heaps of trash.
They beg - steal - or starve.
They can only dream of a good meal, a warm bed and a school desk!

There is approximately one doctor for every 30,000 people. For most, a poorly educated "health worker" is usually at least day's march away. Imagine the scene: Able-bodied family members have to carry the sick over hanging bridges, over precarious passes through mountains in wicker baskets on their backs.

Poverty has many faces. It's not always just about starving. Poverty also means hopelessness, hunger and malnutrition. Poor nutrition is one of the many contributing factors to sickness and death, especially in children. Poverty is the lack of opportunities, the lack of love, the lack of happiness - and lost hope.

Education

Education is a precious commodity. The term "educated" is a very relative term in Nepal. In small, remote or hilly villages, there is generally only one small school with a single teacher. This teacher, will often sometimes have only completed 4 years of schooling himself, yet he is considered a "scholar".

How can children learn when they are expected to work instead? When there isn't enough money for daily food - how can parents afford pencils and schoolbooks?

Here in Nepal, too many children end up as child laborers - they are robbed of their magical childhood. The golden blossom of youth, all too often, has an abrupt ending.

Many other children - who at least have a roof over their head, even just made of plastic tarps or wooden crates - suffer just as badly - from hunger, neglect, illness and an absolute lack of hope.

These are the harsh realities - the facts of life.

But the amazing thing is,
there are still smiles to be seen.
There is still life, and where there is life,

there is still hope.

Life on the streets

1.6 million children are doomed to various kinds of child labor, bringing with it all manner of physical and emotional scars. At least 40,000 children are victims of forced labor.

More than 26,000 children work or live on the streets, and about 5,000 of these are full-time street kids.

1.6 million children are doomed to various kinds of child labor, bringing with it all manner of physical and emotional scars. At least 40,000 children are victims of forced labor.

Why? These are mostly orphaned children, or children who have families who cannot feed them anymore. Children sometimes have to beg for money for their family.

As long as families are reliant on the income of their children, there will always be children who have to work under the worst of circumstances.

These children do not have a choice. As young as they are, there is only one simple choice: Live or die!