Nepal is all about money. Especially since most people don’t have enough of it and have only few options to get enough. So there is poverty. Which comes in all shapes and sizes. From mega poor to immensely rich and everything in between. For many people it is a daily struggle to get a few rupees to feed themselves and their families, take care of housing and be healthy. That is of course the most distressing form.

Yet here you don’t see to many beggars in the old-fashioned sense of the word. What you see are many people in every possible way to try to make money and totally unnecessary occupations.

For example, a woman who sits on the street with old scales and asks a few rupees from passers-by who want to get weight. Or some sort of security by a gentleman that opens and closes the door of the cash machine booth… Sales of the most insignificant junk that makes you wonder if anyone is waiting for it. Or young men who arrange a taxi for you at a crowded taxi stand for a few rupees. Which is total nonsense, because they are so many taxies to choose from. Also there are bad thing happening that you do not see right away, especially if you don’t want to see them, such as drug trafficking, sniffing glue and prostitution that is often hidden in things like ‘massage parlours’.

But there are also many Nepalis who have some money for food, shelter and basic health care, but not for serious medical issues and decent education for their children. And like everywhere else parents here only want one thing, namely that their children have a better life than they do. Moreover, in Nepal it is tradition that children at one point will start to take care of their ageing parents. So that gives added weight to the desire that their children get a good education and thus have more chances for a better job. That is the only way to break the cycle of poverty.

For Westerners Nepal is still a cheap country. Going there is generally the most expensive part of the trip. You can make staying here as expensive or cheap as you want.  All variations are possible.

One Euro is approximately 130 rupees. A meal with a drink and main course will cost you on average 4/500 rupee. And a half hour taxi ride costs about the same. (In the Netherlands, a taxi wouldn’t even pick you up for that amount.) For an 8-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to Pokhara, you pay 700 rupees. Traveling by microbus (a small van or tooktook with generally too many people on board) does not cost anything, at most 15/25 rupee.

In Nepal, you can just use the ATM; you should really do that only at the right bank though because otherwise they will charge you 3/500 rupee per transaction. But there are a few who don’t. Those are the most reliable and you’ll find many foreigners there. And if you use an ATM, you’ll get a big pile of banknotes that confirm your sense of wealth.

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4 Smiling Faces

Smiling Faces is the abbreviation for the Helping Hands 4 Smiling Faces Foundation, that was started by Tjitske Weersma in 2008. We improve the living conditions of children in children’s homes in developing countries with specific, small-scale projects in which they are central. We also support them when they have to leave those homes at 18 and have no safety net to fall back on. With us they come first. With our help they’ll go so much further, are they able to make their own choices and can they make shape their own lives.