Nepal: Joining China's "One Belt, One Road"

Help Nepal, But Donate Strategically

little girl and her little "car"

Little girl and her little “car.” Photo: Somer Zhang

A little girl of about 3 was pulling a little “car” on the road mixed with sand and dust. Her “car” was made of a plastic bottle and four plastic bottle caps. The girl is just like many Nepalis kids, whose childhood consists of simple DIY toys fashioned from their surroundings.

The surroundings in this part of the country, the Terai, are jungle flatlands near India and relatively far from the Himalaya. In these villages near Chitwan National Park, renowned for its rare wildlife, kids have found a new way to enrich their playing time as well as feed their pockets — that is, asking for money from foreign tourists.

pencil is more of toy than tool for school works

A pencil appears to serve as a toy rather than for schoolwork. Photo: Somer Zhang

I admit, at first, I overestimated my glamour when two little girls of about five years old followed me on a path — thinking they were interested in me personally. But one girl kept saying, “10 rupees, 10 rupees.”

I thought she was greeting me in a different way. But later, more children joined her, following us down the country road. Near the road lay a large amount of corn, the main economic resource for some family. The kids gazed at our team, repeating the same word–“rupee” — for a long time.

chitwan

Harvested corn dries outside a home. Photo: Somer Zhang

I realized that they were asking for something, probably rupees. I waved my hand, replying, “Sorry, I have no rupees, only my camera.” The kids here might have a word or two of English,but no more.

According to UNICEF, as of 2011, roughly a quarter of children in Nepal are living in poverty.  From these statistics, it was not hard to understand why lots of children were walking around in Chitwan, asking for rupees. Although many people are living in poverty in Nepal, they shouldn’t be given “rupees,” like these children on the streets — because there are ways to donate and give aid that will help poor communities more.

I remembered an article written by a Chinese tour guide, Ye Liang, who works in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has donated money to charities or local communities regularly. He encountered children during his trip as well. He never gave money to them, because of the bad habits they might develop from that practice. Ye’s piece said that children may gain the awareness of “Reaping without sowing,” – meaning they can get money by begging for it from rich tourists, rather than their own effort.

Ye reminded tourists in his article: “Be sure to donate strategically, otherwise the money is wasted and the people in need are still in a bad condition.” In most cases, strategic donation means donating to local communities or organizations with local representatives, doing business with locals instead of giving money to them directly, and searching for and donating to organizations with transparency to their aid work.

children stand near the "museum"

Children stand near the “museum” Photo: Somer

We walked into a little“museum”, which was a special Tharu house located in one small sized community in Chitwan, exhibiting the tools and basic clothes of the ethnic group, Tharu. (The Tharu people are an ethnic group native to the Terai, who have historically worked as bonded laborers in Nepal, and have therefore had a low social status throughout the country.)

All the children of this community came to us, some out of curiosity, some for money. There was a donation box near the door of the museum. On the box it said, “Donate here, help us build up our Tharu community.”

children watching the donating box

Children looking at the donation box. Photo: Somer

John opened his backpack and found out his wallet, taking out all his rupees. He put his money inside the box, then turned back, looking at dozens  of kids watching him with desirous eyes.“Hey, guys, you’ve seen that, I just put all my rupees in this box — if you want them, just talk to the box,” John said, gesturing to the box.

This is an example of donating strategically. Donating to communities can benefit local infrastructure construction and other public service projects,

which brings development to the whole community. If someone gives money to kids on streets, that can be of little help to the whole community, except to please a number of children — for a very brief time.

a boy riding a brand new bicycle with his older brother

A boy riding a brand new bicycle with his older brother. Photo: Somer

And, while these children appeared to be there of their own free will, there can be darker — and criminal — elements to soliciting money on the street. In China, few years ago, a number of kids were sitting on the ground, begging in crowded streets of cities  with a plastic bowl in front of them. These children were trafficked at a very young age. Human traffickers used them as money-making machines by sending them to the streets and begging.

If people did nothing but put money in their bowls, the kids had no chance to be free again. Even worse,  traffickers would look for more kids, seeing begging kids as a profitable business with little cost.

It’s good and necessary to have sympathy; however, it may  not be conducive to the needy if the sympathy is applied to real life randomly.

Robin Low, an American, the chief executive office of a company named Greenyan, had just came back to Nepal for disaster relief work. His company wanted to help the villages which were ruined in the earthquake get back to normal as soon as possible. He thought the best way to help Nepal now was to travel here and do business.“Donating is good —but it’s out of sympathy for their poor situation, which can’t last forever.” He said that if Chinese tourists came back, it would  bring Nepal’s economy to life again.

“With incomes from tourism, the business men can take care of their family; things will come back gradually,”Low said.

Now, Nepalis are badly in need of help from the world.

On the Internet, experienced social workers have already made  suggestions for people who want to donate and help the rebuilding of Nepal.One of them is an organization named DonateNepal (http://donatenepal.com/). It is an organized website working worldwide to find different charities for needed Nepali people. The charities displayed on the website are ongoing charities used in Nepal. They update it with new charities which are the most demanding urgency for Nepalis.

Other organizations are likeUNICEF, Catholic aid agency Cafod,Foundation Nepal, (http://foundation-nepal.org/donate/) and so on.

Beth Buczynski wrote an article on Facebook,“10 Things You Should Know Before You Donate To Nepal”(https://www.distractify.com/things-to-know-before-you-donate-to- nepal1197924247.html). She listed some practical tips for individual donators such as “Pick an organization that has a local presence” .

When it comes to helping Nepal, donating strategically is a important idea which concerned people around the world should follow.

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