Nepal: We Steal and We Don’t Care

American school children donated about 32 refurbished laptops to school kids in Nepal. But the Nepali customs at Kathmandu airport confiscated the laptops and would not return them, even after being informed that they are donated items for disadvantaged children.

Enough to make a Nepali cringe with shame and anger. What is wrong with our system where donated items for children are being confiscated.Our customs regulations on electronic items are archaic and counter productive, shouldn’t there be some consideration for charity and children?

Then a tweet from esteemed columnist Nicholas Kristof caught my eye. He tweeted about the Kathmandu customs fiasco, and called their insensitive and stupid act “stealing”.

“@NickKristof: #Nepal government steals laptops donated by Americans for Nepali schoolchildren: http://bit.ly/n8HBuM”

For a noted and celebrated journalist like Kristof to just shoot off words without properly examining the situation, is not only irresponsible but counterproductive.

In a single tweet, he accused the Nepali customs/ government of stealing the laptops, no context before the accusation and no explanation afterwards. His followers, more than a million of them, will now see Nepal as an unethical place where even children’s donations are not safe.

I have been a Kristof fan for long time and pretty sure that he didn’t mean any malice, but his over blown reaction has hurt’s Nepal’s image and the children he wanted to help. How will this affect future donations to the organization helping these children? Will the donors have faith in Nepal and continue supporting the organization helping these children?

I know I am sounding like an apologist here, but we are condemning the wrong demon here. Instead of accusing the government of stealing, we need to highlight outdated customs system and regulations, and corruption.

Every country had it’s own laws and regulations. Nepal has screwed up ones, I agree. But still the Government formulated them based in prevailing laws,they are well within their rights. Don’t question their authority to screw up, question the messed up system instead.

Please send donations to Kopila Valley Children’s Home. But no computers for now!

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