Joining somewhat random dots…

Written by Declan on July 10th, 2015 Categories: Exploitation, Latest, Migrant Labour, Poverty, Your Chance | no comments so far. write your own »

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…

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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.

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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.

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