Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the early morning of April 25, I returned to Hong Kong after attending a Forum on Reconcilation for NE Asia in Nagasaki, Japan, in which Christians from China, Japan, Korea and the States gathered to discuss possible reactions to those pains from the Second World War. And just a few hours later, Nepal was badly hit by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake. Up to now carrying out relief and rehabilitation work is still very difficult and many Nepalese are in dire need of help.
In 2011, Japan was hit by a “triple” disaster: earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation. The churches in Japan responded in unity to serve the needy. Today, Nepal is also facing a multi-dimensional disaster. Apart from the direct impacts of the earthquake, I am more concerned about their economic and political instabiliity, as well as human trafficking issues. Each year, about 12,000 people in Nepal are being trafficked to neighbouring countries. This is extremely cold-hearted. With the happening of the earthquake, traffickers are increasingly preying on the vulnerable children and women. We must act urgently to establish proper means of protection.
Between 1996 and 2006, the Nepalese Civil War between the oppositions (led by the Maoist) and the Nepalese monarchy had killed a total of 12,000 people. The 240-year-old monarchy was eventually replaced by a federal democratic republic after the Constituent Assembly election in 2008. Unfortunately, until now, a new constitution still has not been set up. Major political parties continue to scramble for power and remain divided on key issues. In fact, the Government of Nepal has formulated the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management in 2008, but the policy was never implemented due to political instablity, thus leaving the nation heavily shattered in this earthquake.
Yet, there exists another contrasting and powerful force in Nepal. The official statistics shows that only 1.4 percent of the population is Christian, but the actual number might be more. In 2011, about 1,600 Christian leaders set up a network named “Christian Commitment for Building New Nepal”. They are active in mobilising communities, political parties and the Government to bring improvement to Nepal. The network identified a number of social issues and brought the 7 most pressing issues to the attention of the Government. They are poverty, corruption, discrimination in caste system, violence and discrimination against women, unemployment, illiteracy and environmental hygiene.
After the earthquake, CEDAR Fund has seen many local churches and organisations working hard to serve the needy in remote villages, in some cases they are even more effective than the Government. We are working with many local partners in Nepal now and started projects covering rehabilitation, counseling, livelihoods, education and prevention of human trafficking. In Hong Kong, we have more than 10 Nepalese churches. They are our neighbours with which we need to render our helping hand to care for them in this crisis.
Your co-worker in Christ
Chan Nim Chung