May you not trip when you walk – a widow’s story
Widow Deukumari Chhetri lives in Tanchowk village in the remote Annapurna region of Nepal. At the age of 95 she is remarkably independent, and still able to support her family thanks to the welfare pension she receives from The Gurkha Welfare Trust.
Our Pensioner Support Team visited Deukumari to deliver her pension, complete a routine health check and provide her with medicines. After a journey of over two hours to reach her village, the team were happy to spend time chatting to Deukumari about her life and how she manages to support her family.
Duekumari’s husband, the late Rifleman Jagatbahadur Chhetri, was enlisted in India, served with the Gurkhas in Burma, and was discharged from Malaysia in 1947.
“We got married when I was 16. He did come on leave while serving. He used to say that he fought with the enemies in the jungle. He ducked under boulders to survive when they were attacked.”
When he returned home after being discharged from the army, it was difficult for Jagatbahadur to provide for his family.
“We struggled a lot. Income from farming was not enough. We had to borrow money to buy seeds and had to repay in crops. They charged heavy interest and not much was left for us.”
“We also tried our luck in trade. Me and my husband used to walk for 3 days to and buy clothes, rations – bring them back to the village and sell it here. I remember my youngest son was just three years old and I had carried him all the way. It was very difficult.”
We provide a pension for over 3,800 vulnerable Gurkha veterans and widows
In 1994 Jagbahadur started to receive a monthly pension from The Gurkha Welfare Trust, enabling him to support his family. When he died in 2008, we continued to provide a pension for his widow.
Since the death of her husband, Deukumari’s pension has been a lifeline – for herself and her family. She currently lives with the youngest of her three sons, 60-year old Sherbahadur, and his family. Sherbahadur is a subsistence farmer, but the income he receives from farming is not enough for them to live on.
“As we got older, it was difficult to work the land. The youngest son that I live with is uneducated and is a farmer – we couldn’t have been dependent on him. We couldn’t have survived without the pension.”
The pension enables Deukumari to buy essentials, mainly food items and clothes. She is also delighted when she is able to provide treats for those she loves.
“I have many grandchildren and great grandchildren and they come to visit me during festivals – I buy sweets for them!”
I want to thank you all
For a 95 year-old, Deukumari is coping well with life in the village. She can look after herself and walk about around the house, with a walking stick we provided for her. She likes to watch TV or just sit outside on the verandah during the day, and she loves to chat with visitors. Deukumari expressed her gratitude for the support she receives from The Gurkha Welfare Trust.
“I want to thank you all. May you not trip while you walk. May you not get sick. May you not have to quarrel with anyone. May you achieve whatever you aim to do.”