Rifleman Dharamsing Tamang’s Story
Many supporters of the Trust will remember Rifleman Dharamsing Tamang’s story. After serving as a Gurkha for 11 years, he faced a life of hardship due to injury and the loss of his home in the Nepal earthquakes in 2015.
Following the disaster, we provided emergency support to Dharamsing and his wife, Doma, who went on to become our first Gurkha pensioners to move into their new, quake-resistant home built by us in February 2016. We recently revisited the couple.
Sadly, not long after moving in, 79-year-old Dharamsing’s health worsened. He is now confined to his bed most of the time and relies heavily on Doma’s care. She is all the more relieved to have a proper home:
“If we didn’t have this house, with Dharamsing like this, we would be living like dogs in the street.”
“The Welfare Pension is our only income. We use it to buy our rations and supplements like milk. Dharamasing needs extra care because of his condition. If he was able to walk things would be easier but life is still hard.”
The couple live near to our Welfare Centre in Jiri. Doma has a close relationship with our local Welfare Officer there, and regularly turns to him for support.
“It is very helpful to live so close. In the past we had to travel far and it cost money too. We can see the doctors easily now. Whenever Dharmasing is uncomfortable I can ask for help. The welfare staff care for us like they were our own children.”
A loyal wife by his side
Spending time with the couple, it is clear to see Doma’s caring nature. She is constantly rearranging Dharamsing’s blankets, batting away flies or wiping his brow. In March 2017, we also provided an electronic air mattress for bedridden Dharamsing. “I am much more comfortable with this,” he tells us, “before I was feeling a lot of pain.”
Asked about their life in the new home, Doma remains positive:
“The house is very good – without it, we would still be staying in a pigsty. It is very strong. I feel safe here.”
She is also pleased with the smokeless stove we installed: “It is very good for cooking. When I close it, the smoke all goes outside and it’s easier to see and breathe. The wood lasts longer than normal fires and in winter it keeps the house warm.”
Life in the Army
Despite his ill health, Dharamsing was still keen to talk to us about his service, which included fighting in the Malayan Emergency. “It was frightening. I remember my friend being shot next to me in battle and I killed two of the enemy with my rifle. When we handed over to the 6th Gurkha Rifles, I know they had many casualties.”
Doma helps to fill in his holes in memory: “He used to tell me stories. One time they were digging holes to shelter from the gunfire and they realised they were on top of a graveyard.
“I also went to Malaya with Dharamasing. Two of our daughters were born there while he was fighting, although one of them died on the journey back to Nepal.”
For this old soldier and his wife, the Trust’s support is absolutely vital.
“Without the GWT we would already be dead, I am sure of it. I am very happy that you are here.”
“We cannot give anything back to you but we are very grateful,” she adds, before being overcome with emotion and breaking into tears. “It is only because of you that we are here today.”
Dharmasing and Doma first moved into their new home in 2016