Giving our heroes the healthcare they need
In so many ways, Gurkha veterans have fought for our lives and the freedom we enjoy today. As they grow older and more frail, repaying our debt of honour means giving these heroes and their families the healthcare they need.
Unfortunately, in Nepal the healthcare system is underdeveloped and understaffed –especially in the isolated rural areas where many of our pensioners live. That is why it is crucial for us to reach vulnerable veterans and widows, who may have no other way of accessing medical care.
Rifleman Sombahadur Gurung
Sombahadur served in Hong Kong, Malaya and Borneo with the 6th Gurkha Rifles. He lives in a remote village with no road access that takes two hours to reach from our nearest Area Welfare Centre.
Three years ago, Sombahadur tragically suffered a stroke and was paralysed on one side of his body. He had started to make progress in his recovery until he was struck by lightning. Now he is bed bound, unable to walk on his own and completely dependent on the GWT for medical support.
Access to medical care in Sombahadur’s village is very limited. The local health post can only provide basic medicine. Without our door-to-door service delivering his prescriptions, Sombahadur would either need to be carried to the local health post or driven to a hospital in the nearest town – a difficult task for his age.
To make him as comfortable as possible, we have provided Sombahadur with a wheelchair, walking frame, and an electric air mattress. We also visit him periodically to carry out check-ups and supply essential medicines.
Widow Bhairati Khatri
Bhairati’s late husband, Rifleman Kanshi Ram Khatri, fought in World War II with the 9th Gurkha Rifles and earned an Italy Star for his service. Bhairati, now 85 years old, is frail, hard of hearing, and suffers from dementia. When we first came to see her, she struggled to walk without assistance.
After some discussion with Bhairati’s family, we brought her to our Residential Home in Kaski to care for her and provide rehabilitation therapy for several health conditions. Over the course of a few months, our team helped Bhairati work on muscle strengthening, breathing therapies, and nutrition.
Eventually, Bhairati gained the strength and confidence to walk independently with a walking frame. She returned home and is looked after by her daughter.
Rifleman Sherbahadur Gurung
Sherbahadur enlisted with the 1/2 Gurkha Rifles in 1960 and earned the Burma Star for his service. He relies on the GWT to cover the cost of care he receives at health centres in Kathmandu.
When Sherbahadur couldn’t make it to the city due to Covid-19 restrictions, we brought his prescriptions straight to his door.
“Whenever I go to bigger hospitals in Kathmandu when referred by a GWT doctor, I am able to get all the treatments and they reimburse the expenses. I need to take my medicines regularly for hypertension. The medicines were about to run out, but you arranged delivery here.”
Without the support of the GWT, Sherbahadur believes life would be quite difficult. “I don’t know what would happen,” he said. “I guess I would have to depend on my children or relatives. I am also lucky to have a caring family. I can’t imagine how it would have been otherwise. I am very grateful to the GWT. Dhanyabad (thank you)!”