Archive for the 'Poverty' Category

When things work out as they should.

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Isn’t it odd how quite often in life the right thing to do is rarely the easiest? So many times in our almost 12 years of operation we’ve encountered situations where reuniting the children we support with their families is nothing short of a mammoth (and quite often unending) task. There have been frustrating times when members of our team have most probably found themselves wondering why we couldn’t just refer the child in question to one of the relatively few well-run children’s homes in operation here and simply relieve ourselves of the responsibility.

It would certainly be the least difficult option for us to pursue but, with a growing body of research continuing to highlight the longer-term negative impact such institutional care options have on a child’s development, we’ve always remained committed to doing as much as necessary to facilitate a safe and successful family reintegration wherever possible.

I’m delighted to report that our most recent such case took an important step closer to this successful completion earlier this week when, after months of searching enquiries and painstaking detective work more than 100 miles from Kathmandu, the brother and sister pictured below finally got to meet their maternal grandfather.

Youthful disregard for the cultural reluctance to smile for photos! ;o)

While there is certainly a whole lot of work still to be done to ensure that these beautiful siblings will return to the safe and loving family environment they both deserve and long to be in, the smiles, laughter and sheer excitement experienced here on Tuesday last when Grandpa came to visit were more than enough to convince us that we’re almost definitely still on the right track. It was yet another one of those beautiful moments when all past difficulties and frustrations experienced in actually getting to this point, quite simply pale into insignificance upon witnessing something as it should be – a family reunited.

Huge and unending thanks to all those who make momentous events such as this possible – most particularly loyal and generous supporters such as you, without whom our incredible staff wouldn’t be able to achieve all that they do! :o)

From certain chaos to potential doom…

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

You’d be forgiven for knowing little or nothing about what’s been going on in Nepal over the last few months. Not least because of my own continued inability to keep this here website even nearly as up-to-date as it deserves and in deed needs to be (Cringe!) but also because, unless there’s a deadly earthquake to sensationalise or a quirky government-sponsored goat slaughter or similar to fill the “and finally…” news slot, poor ol’ Nepal never commands a great deal of the global media’s increasingly limited attention.

Earthquake devastation aside, it’s the political chaos, ineptitude and criminal inaction which has unfolded since that sees Nepal now in the grips of a humanitarian crisis the outside world most probably knows very little about. What started with violent protests (against the introduction of a knowingly divisive constitution some months back) disrupting the regular supply of goods across the Indian border, has continued to spiral out of control with the powers-that-be doing very little by way of constructive intervention and the black-market economy fast becoming the accepted norm.

Political intricacies and confusion aside, the current situation remains that with ‘normal’ supply channels from India being severely disrupted for months now, a slowly-growing array of daily essentials (including petrol, diesel, cooking gas and, perhaps most worryingly, medical supplies) are only available to those who can afford the extortionate prices demanded by those who somehow or another have managed to maintain a readily available supply.

Needless to say, the long-suffering Nepali citizens continue to struggle on, as best they know how, getting by on what little they have. Times are tougher than they’ve ever been before though and I find myself wondering if the resilient nature of Nepali people, which I’ve admired for years, isn’t actually one of their greatest weaknesses… One being cruelly exploited by those who have the power to create change but choose not to… Ke garne? Nepal este ho…

While it’s definitely a whole lot more uncertain than it’s ever been in the almost 12 years that I’ve lived here, I can’t actually say that it’s hugely different. The children and families we work with remain vulnerable and as in need of a caring and supportive hand as they’ve ever been. We’re incredibly fortunate at just-one to enjoy the continued support of a small but incredibly generous army of fans from all over the world who kindly empower us to do what we do.

From the hundreds of school students who were inspired by our visitors on this autumn’s Etihad-sponsored fundraising trip to Ireland, to individuals like Thomas Fitzgibbon who ran the Everest Marathon kindly raising over €7,000 and the 14 fundraising trekkers from Ireland who visited Poon Hill recently and contributed almost €35,000 between them are just some of the endeavours that have allowed us to continue reaching out to some of those most in need and help them get their lives back on track.


As I wrote that last paragraph just there and wondered how I’d wrap the post up ready to be published, I saw notification of a message received by our facebook page and went to take a look… I’m still shell-shocked by what I read but feel I must share it with you here too… It was from the daughter of one of the aforementioned Poon Hill trekkers to share the terribly sad news that her father, James Fitzgerald, died yesterday following a tragic accident at his home. It’s difficult to comprehend that the gentleman pictured to the fore of the photo below is no longer with us… :o(


James Fitzgerald, Nov 12, the morning we reached Poon Hill.

In sharing our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt condolences with his family, I’d also like to remind them that the legacy of his incredibly generous and valuable contribution to our work (well over €1,000 more than the €1,500 minimum each participant had to raise) will live on in the bright and happy smiles of the children who are already benefiting from the support he kindly empowered us to provide for them and their families. May he rest in peace.

Joining somewhat random dots…

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Hot and sweaty from the 12km journey through dusty chaos in sweltering monsoon humidity, I’ve just arrived back to just-one‘s humble HQ in Kushibu having cycled across the city and back to collect the authorisation letter I need to get every 4 months from the Dept. of Information so that I can get my visa renewed and was very happily surprised at how uncharacteristically hassle-free it was this time ’round. Here’s hoping Sunday’s bureaucratic hoop-jumping at the Dept. of Immigration will go in a similar manner for me. I saw something just as I started my journey back and figured it’s worthy of sharing here as it relates somewhat to the bigger picture of Nepal’s general situation and where the work of organisations like just-one tie into it all…


Chaotic traffic-clogged streets & monsoon clouds gathering overhead

Having crossed the bridge by Tilganga Eye Hospital and started pedalling up the hill towards the traffic mayhem of Gaushala Chowk, I noticed a battered old Mahindra 4×4 flat-bed truck chugging along beside me. As it slowly overtook me and left me taste the carcinogens in the haze of diesel fumes left in its wake, I had enough time to contemplate the most likely sad and morbid reality of the large metal trunk it carried as cargo. Our proximity to the airport at the time and the white bar-coded “KTM” label I saw stuck on one end by a carrying handle had me surmise that the 2 men crouched either side of the trunk, holding a white sheet over it as best they could, were most probably close family of the deceased migrant worker who, by now, will have already been cremated at Pashupatinath Temple – towards which the truck had turned right by the top of the hill, leaving me cycle on with a sense of sadness for someone I never knew.

Any time I’ve ever departed Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport I’ve witnessed just a fraction of the seemingly unending exodus of young Nepal workers being shipped out by the various local manpower agencies who fill the foreign demand for migrant labourers. On my numerous returns too, I’ve shared boarding queues and gulf flights with many of these workers flying home. Today though was the first time I’ve seen someone coming back to Nepal in such a stark and conclusive manner.


A photo of cargo coffins taken by Peter Pattison for this recent article

I’ll have to admit that I have no recollection of where I heard or read the statistic that 4 migrant workers return to Nepal like this each day and can only wonder whether or not any of the 1,000 or so Nepali folks who migrate daily ever ponder the possibility that “going outside” might not be all that they have hoped for… High-profile cases like the Qatar World Cup have seen the slave-like conditions occasionally featuring in mainstream media, along with the inhuman exploitation suffered (often initially at the hands of their own less scrupulous countrymen who charge handsomely for their questionable brokerage services) by so many unskilled manual labourers whose collective absence from Nepal currently leaves their native country facing a somewhat ironic labour-shortage of its own as it struggles to rebuild after all the recent devastation it endured.

What I also couldn’t help but wonder about though was the safety and well-being of the half-dozen or so now young adults who’ve unfortunately slipped through the cracks of what just-one generally offers to those we work with and, having invariably succumbed to family pressures to choose the short-term gain of foreign employment over the longer-term benefit of our educational support, are all currently working somewhere or other across the gulf. While the couple I’ve got occasional contact with on social media seem generally upbeat about their situations, one 19 year old now working in Saudi-Arabia did recently express regret at not taking his education more seriously when he had the opportunity.

Such is life, I guess, and we can only ever help those willing to accept our help. Seeing what I saw earlier though has me recommitted to notion that we have to constantly give it our absolute all to better ensure that we succeed with as many of those we work with as possible and help them achieve all that they’re capable of rather than risk becoming a much sadder statistic. If you’ve helped our work in any way, shape or form over the last 11 years then please accept my most sincere and heartfelt thanks on behalf of all here I work with and for. If you’d like to make a contribution and help our important work here to continue in the way it must, then you’ll find all the details you need here and can rest assured that your support will be very much appreciated and put to the very best of use.