A thought about street kids in Kathmandu

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Normal night life in the streets of Thamel
Normal night life in the streets of Thamel (courtesy of "just-one")

The Himex team left for the mountains on Tuesday morning, it has been snowing in the Everest region, I am finally packed and all I have to do now is interview all the other expeditions that are currently arriving in Kathmandu. However, I had another thought about an issue that is quite ubiquitous here in the capital, and should you ever decide to visit this beautiful place you might be interested in the following:

You will see a lot of children living in the streets of Kathmandu and they are mainly there because of poverty and domestic violence. However, some of the kids’ homes are actually intact, and according to Declan Murphy of the “just-one” organisation, which tries to reintegrate these children, it is often the tourists’ kindness that keeps them on the streets. “I actually know one kid that comes from quite a wealthy background, however, street life is more exciting and that is why he is here,” he said.

Seeing how other children seem able to survive on the street, some of the children decide to try their luck and fall under the influence of older street kids – kids who have learnt that begging can be a lucrative game, who know the escape of solvent abuse, who no longer have the tension of living with impoverished and over-stressed parents, and who are prepared to put up with various hardships in return for what they see as a life of total freedom.

You might ask yourselves now why I am writing about this, however, this is something that has been on my mind for a while and having the opportunity to tell my readers more about life in Nepal gives me the right platform to rant. Every day I see foreigners, who want to be kind to those kids and buy them foodstuff, such as biscuits, bananas, chocolate, doughnuts etc. Most of the children rarely get these things at home, however, rather than having Dhal Bhat (Nepal’s staple diet of lentils and rice) with their parents, they can endeavour a delicious doughnut or a huge ice cream. There are currently around 1,200 street kids in the Kathmandu Valley and several organisations, such as “just-one”, offer them assistance. Murphy says it is sometimes hard for them to work with the kids as they have to choose between a ‘normal’ life of school, learning, family, routine, structure, rules and day-to-day hardships, and a life of comparative freedom that the random acts of kindness of countless kind-hearted people make possible.

So, if you ever come to Nepal and feel sorry for the kids in the streets of Thamel, please do not buy them any food or other nice things, as this is one of the main reasons that keeps them in the streets. If you want to do something, find an organisation you think does good work and support them.

Thanks for listening…or rather reading!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Scott MacLennan

    Contact me, I have an idea for the street kids. A bouldering wall just for them. Interested in helping?

  2. billibierling

    Dear Don

    Thanks for your comment. Regarding giving pencils and writing material to children in the rural villages I would ask you NOT to do it. The problem is that the kids are getting so used to just asking for something – they don’t really need pens, however, tourists are often taken by the fact that the children don’t ask for chocolate or money but for pens. So, if you want to help the children and their education, give pens and books directly to schools or other organisations. It would also be good to buy the stationary in Nepal as it saves you bringing it over and you help the local economy with this. I hope this helps!

  3. Chris Censullo

    Billi, I always enjoy reading the various updates regarding Everest expeditions when I can, but just wanted to compliment you on your excellent site, which I only recently discovered.

    I think that you have an interesting book in you (if you haven’t already written one). I think you should someday write about your life in Nepal. I think that you could incorporate all of the aspects (cultural observations, your job, your fitness regime, and climbing Everest) into an enjoyable read.

    I hope that the mountain treats you warmly and kindly for all of the care you seem to have treated her and her people with in your life. Best of luck!

  4. Don

    What are your thoughts about giving pencils and writing materials (etc)directly to kids in the rural villages —- or better to contribute to organizations instead?

  5. Twan

    Very interesting viewpoint and I am very happy that finally something is written about, because this is often too true.
    Most people think they help the good cause, but in fact they spoil it..

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