Since the 60s, there has been a massive international humanitarian presence in Nepal – providing programs for everything from nutrition, medical and health care, to women’s vocational training and education. Most of the NGOs focus on children’s welfare. They show pictures of malnourished children, beg for donations for the children dying by the day of “preventable diseases”. They tell stories of glue-sniffing orphans living on the streets. They build schools and they open hospitals – over and over again. Some treat the symptoms – rehabilitation for former child prostitutes and child soldiers – and some attempt to address the causes.
They beg for a future. And they try to sell hope.
As a matter of fact, most of the key markers we gauge success and development – rate of infant mortality, life expectancy – have improved. The GDP has risen (slightly) and absolute poverty seems to have steadily reduced…
…and yet. This hopeful improving “situation” was bad enough to turn the calls for political reform and ethnic conflict that began in the 90s into a full on civil war that killed at least 13,000 and displaced more than 100,000. Continue reading