Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spanish woman elated after adopting Nepali 'orphan' child

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 18 [2006]:

Paca Tomas, a Spanish woman in her forties, is elated, for her dream of adopting a Nepali child has turned into reality after three-and-a-half years. 
"It was like being on top of Everest. Everybody knows it is difficult, but you can imagine the pleasure of being there only when you are finally there," she said today, relating her feeling after she got the approval from the government to adopt the girl-child. 
It was almost four years ago when Tomas, an official at the International Oxfam, dreamt of adopting a child. "Now that Subhechha has come to my life, my professional life is a second priority," says the unmarried professional from Barcelona. 
Tomas first filed an application at the Ministry of Welfare Family and Adoption in Spain and followed an eight-month hectic process of giving interviews to the ministry officials, child psychologists, social assistants and padagogists. 
"It is a long story. They used to come to my home any time and asked any question they had in their mind. They sought my permanent work contract, bank accounts, health certificate and what not. But I was not tired. Then I felt how strongly I wanted to adopt a child," she said. 
After getting an approval from the Spanish government, she decided to adopt a Nepali girl. And the Honorary Consular of Nepal, Lluis Belvis, helped her a lot in contacting orphan homes and translating her Spanish documents into English and correspond with the orphanage from where she was to adopt the girl. 
"I came to Nepal in March to see my child. When I saw Subhechha in the orphanage, my heart told me she is the girl I love," she said. As the process of approving the adoption here was very long, she had to come here again in October to complete the "whole thing". Thereafter, she had to wait for two more weeks to get the paper signed by the secretary at the Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare. 
Meanwhile, she also found that the child, presented as an orphan by the orphanage, actually had parents and she also managed to meet them. "It was shocking. I felt sorry when I knew that Subhechha had parents but I could also understand that they might prefer her to be adopted due to poverty," she said, adding that she would be in contact with them. However, she refused to give the name of the orphanage, which gave her the "orphan". 
Tomas may have to face more bureaucratic hassles. The officials can refuse to sign papers without giving reasons. "The process is problematic and needs improvements," she said, smiling. According to the District Administration Office, there are over 600 orphanages in the capital city alone. Thanks to the conflict, many children are left without parents and some orphanages here are found showcasing children with parents as orphans to have them adopted by foreigners. 

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

International day for natural disaster reduction : Week-long ritual events planned to mark day

Kathmandu, October 10:
Nepal is celebrating the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction by organising a series of ritual week-long events. Though the government is not organising any programme on the Day itself, a series of programmes, including inter-school debates, youth rallies, gallery shows on rescue and preparedness, street dramas on school and community preparedness, will be held throughout the week. The Ministry of Home Affairs, preoccupied with the government-Maoists talks, has given the least preference to the celebration of the day, activists said.
The United Nations General Assembly had designated the second Wednesday of October as the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction through resolution 44/236 on December 22, 1989. "Since the UN has chosen a theme, concentrating on school-related activities, we are doing our best to raise awareness through schools," said Shyam Sundar Gyawali, senior team leader, Emergency and Disaster Management at the Action Aid Nepal. Gyawali said that two schools in the Kathmandu will be chosen to highlight the issue of disaster preparedness in cooperation with Lumanti Support Group.
Though Nepal, too, adopted the 'Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of the Nations and Communities', the government has not been able to implement the framework. "May be the Ministry of Home Affairs has not been able to implement the framework because it has to focus on more crucial issues like talks with the Maoists. We hope the government will make enough efforts to keep save thousands of lives from disasters," he said.
Mahesh Nakarmi, project Manager at the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (N-SET), said: "There is a tendency to forget the theme and objective of celebrating this day."
Annan's statement
KATHMANDU: UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, in a statement issued on the eve of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, said: "It is essential to make disaster risk education a component of national school curricula, and to ensure that children understand how natural hazards interact with the environment. Young people should also be included in community risk-mapping exercises, and have opportunities to share experiences and best practices with others, including their peers. "The theme of this year's observance of the International Day for Disaster Reduction highlights the need to keep our children safe and to involve them directly in our work to strengthen disaster preparedness, he said, adding: "Children are especially vulnerable to the threats posed by natural hazards." HNS
Published: October 11, 2006 12:00 am On: Nepal

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