Tashi and Dinesh prepared the entire soccer tournament by themselves. They built the goals, invited the other schools, set up the schedule and organized a trophy. The tournament took place during autumn holidays and turned into a festivity for the whole Sertshang Orphanage Home. Som scored the decisive two goals, The eleven year old is all smiles. He has not been around in the orphanage for long, arriving together with his brother Kumar. During the initial days, he was weeping all the time. The two have lost their parents during the earthquake in spring. So did six other newly arrived children. Most of them lived in the mountain regions were the quake had the most devastating effects. Many things are new to the kids, like learning english - which is part of  the curriculum as early as in the kindergartens of Kathmandu. The children have adapted well to their new Sertshang orphanage family. The other children take very good care of them.

In the orphanage - seven months after the earthquake

One can hardly tell how they are doing emotionally. There is practically no professional psychological care in Nepal. A medic, who worked in the field after the quake told me that he saw many children who were traumatized and could no longer speak. Being unable to help them was the worst emotional strain to him.

At a first glance, one can hardly spot the damage caused to the orphanage. The girls' house has been repaired, the water system functions flawlessly. Only a big brown spot on the lawn reminds the kids of the month they spent living in a makeshift tent. Hearing them laugh and watching them play, it almost seems as if they have overcome the shock of the earthquake. Spending some more time with them, some of them admit the fears and nightmares that are still haunting them, re-living their trauma. When a brief quake force 5,3 hit in November, I noticed how strong they are still affected. Once again, they were so terrified.


Contrasting the orphanage's peaceful atmosphere, Nepal's economic situation is extremely difficult. Not only due to the effects of the earthquake, which the government proved largely helpless with. Since 2015, the country is paralysed by a major crisis: there is hardly any fuel and gas available - An intransparent struggle caused by a disagreement on Nepal's new constitution, which some tribes in the south do not agree with. These tribes receive indirect support from India, the main energy supplier to Nepal. Now, big neighbor India has stopped export under some pretence. They have no sympathy for the government, which is loosing political ground every day. Prices on the black market are skyrocketing, five Swiss Francs for a liter of fuel, a bottle of pressurized gas for five times the usual price. More and more people use wood for cooking meals, which leads to uncontrolled deforestation. Food is getting scarce and more and expensive, while hospitals start running out of medical supplies. Life is getting more and more expensive and difficult while the process of rebuilding Nepal has a slow start. The government has eventually established a department in charge of rebuilding Nepal, which is to coordinate the use of international funds, but work is only slowly progressing.

Due to the lack of perspective, queues in front of the pass-issuing government offices are getting longer and longer. It is especially the younger ones wishing to leave the country. The population endures the current hardships with surprising equinamity. Having gone through such hard times and struggling with everyday survival leaves little power to rebel. The education system is also affected by the energy crisis, as there is not enough fuel for school busses and the country is troubled with calls for nationwide strikes.

After the earthquake, the children did not receive any tuition in a month already and having more days off at school is not met with joy.The children, see this as another signal for a lack of change which leaves current problems unsolved. On such days, the little boys play soccer, while the teenagers gather in small learning groups, studying from their books. They are well aware that a good education enhances their future perspectives. And sometimes, they are daydreaming of how they would run the country if being in power themselves.

bnb, Kathmandu, 12/ 2015

The political crisis in Nepal

Here to the reports of the earthquake in April and the aftershocks in May