NEPAL

"Rosalind Russell agreed to participate in our project prior to her last trip to Nepal, and the soil from that unique land was sent and is in our hands. This is an interim description of her work and challenges in helping the villagers in Nepal, taken from the local Laguna Beach Independent newspaper of 2.29.08. The journal entry of the collection details to follow."

Strikes, Unrest Hinder Goat Lady's Mission
Notes from Nepal

By JENNIFER ERICKSON

Laguna's "goat lady" Rosalind Russell, currently in Nepal on a mission to deliver goats and monitor her ongoing projects, is experiencing first-hand the turmoil of a third-world nation, but continues to press on despite the unforeseen obstacles.

"You wouldn't believe the lack of safety here," she said in a Feb. 18 e-mail, which describes food shortages, fuel theft and hours-long gasoline lines due to a blocked supply route.

Within days of Russell's missive, the U.S. State Department on Feb. 25 also advised against non-essential travel in Nepal. Describing the current situation, the department's website says that "increased agitation by political groups have made the supply of basic services in Kathmandu tenuous." A strike in the region bordering India has shut a border crossing that is a supply route to the capital.

Not only are fuel supplies at a critical level, the website warns, but sporadic demonstrations to protest the lack of fuel and rising food prices have erupted throughout the city.

Russell, who is based in Kathmandu, has been in Nepal since the end of January, and the going has only gotten tougher.

Obtaining fuel is a crucial component to her mission, necessary for delivering goats to the women in three mountain villages, for traveling to monitor the programs already begun in other villages, and for the transportation of materials to complete the school her R Star Foundation has started. Many Laguna Beach residents have supported her efforts with donations.

She and Rabin, her informally adopted Nepalese son and assistant, get on line for fuel every chance they get. Russell described waiting on line for six hours to receive four liters of rationed fuel.

Using preciously hoarded fuel, they travel over jolting terrain by motorbike. She has managed visits to the villages several times, with another trip planned this weekend. So far they delivered 56 goats to women, who "beamed delight and happiness," Russell said.

The shortage of supplies and fuel has halted progress on the nearly complete school Russell is building. In Kathmandu lack of fuel has grounded school buses forcing the schools to close, public transportation has suffered a similar fate and taxi rates have spiraled up 400 percent.

"At no time can we leave the bike alone for the reason of theft of our fuel," said Russell, a victim of one fuel theft.

Supply shortages also mean temples, where bodies are traditionally cremated, no longer have wood or fuel to perform their services. Clients are asked to supply their own, a virtual impossibility for most. Russell says hospitals are literally running out of oxygen, among other critical supplies.

Communicating by e-mail has its own set of complications for Russell as electricity is rationed 40 hours a week. Though a schedule is provided, compliance is spotty. Sporadic electricity is also degrading the food supply. Russell felt poisoned after eating in a restaurant, served food that had apparently spoiled.

"It is a wild ride to be here, and I mean other than on the motorcycle!"

 

 

 

 

 


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