Those just passing through Nepal imagine it as some sort of Shangri La, a magical place where people are poor but happy.  However, if you delve a little deeper you will find a much darker reality, a reality reflected in the eyes of the street children of Kathmandu.

Ramoosh is one such example.  After suffering from years of abuse in the form of neglect, hunger, and regular beatings, he left home to live on the streets of the city.  Originally he would return periodically, but his parents always took the money he had made begging so as time went by he returned home less and less often.  He was quite good at getting money from the foreigners staying in Thamel and it was fun to hang out with the other street kids playing marbles and learning to breakdance.  On the streets he was his own man, with no one telling him what to do.

Soon, however, the days turned into weeks, and then into months and the fun he had been having turned to desperation. It got harder and harder to get enough money with bullies demanding he give them a cut.  For protection he joined a gang, and they share the proceeds of begging, of plastic and rag picking, and of scavenging in order to increase their chances of survival. 

Unfortunately, the gang uses dendrite, a kind of glue popular in the sub-continent so it wasn’t long before Ramoosh was hooked.  Dendrite has the alluring affect of masking the feeling of hunger and allowing Ramoosh to forget where his street life has led him. These days when you see him all life has left his eyes and he can barely remember his family at all.  Violent and unpredictable, his life becomes more tenuous as the worst features of the drug become apparent.  

Ramoosh has slept on the dirty streets of this capital city for nearly two years now.  He tries to sleep through the noise and constant disruption as the police, drunks and street dogs continually disturb him and the rest of the gang.  As such, they sleep well into the morning hours and awake to another day – just as desperate as yesterday. It is clear the government and NGOs have trouble reaching out to the abundance of horrific cases and some like Ramoosh are Nepal’s forgotten children.

The gang, with Ramoosh second from right.

The gang, with Ramoosh second from right.

Patan Boy sniffs as the effects take hold of Ramoosh.

Patan Boy sniffs as the effects take hold of Ramoosh.

The irony of their predicament and a Facebook t-shirt.

The irony of their predicament and a Facebook t-shirt.

One of the boys' pleasures, practicing breakdancing.

One of the boys' pleasures, practicing breakdancing.

Capturing street graffiti "playboy", born into another world Ramoosh would definitely turn an eye.

Capturing street graffiti "playboy", born into another world Ramoosh would definitely turn an eye.

Sadly, unclean and hungry the boys sleep cold and bare to the dirty streets of Kathmandu.  Note the youngest boy has the worst position, at the gangs' feet.

Sadly, unclean and hungry the boys sleep cold and bare to the dirty streets of Kathmandu.  Note the youngest boy has the worst position, at the gangs' feet.

Photographed and written by Susan Blick.

9-12 June, 2013

© 2013 Susan Blick

All Rights Reserved.